Vashi, Navi Mumbai: Dashrath Sitaram Bhagat, founder president of The Navi Mumbai Punarvasan Samajik Sanstha along with youth leader Nishant Karsan Bhagat announced the launch of the ‘Machhimar Hakk Chalval’, a movement for the rights  of fisher-folks, at a press meet here on December 15, by releasing a memorandum of demands for the rehabilitation and resettlement of all those that could be affected by the construction of the proposed 4th bridge on the Thane creek as per provisions of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and the amendments in 2014 and 2015, before commencing work on the project.

The copies of the said demands have been sent to the President and Prime Minister of India, the Governor and Chief Minister of Maharashtra, all concerned Union and State Ministers, Members of Parliament and Maharashtra State Legislature, all concerned State officials, the Navi Mumbai civic and police chiefs and the concerned authorities in Navi Mumbai.   

The Sanstha has demanded that the State government decide on these demands in 15 days or else work on the project would be opposed democratically and legally, stated Dashrath Sitaram Bhagat, president of NMPSS and former opposition leader in the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation.

As per the said Act,

a) Social Impact Assessment report should be prepared by experts in consultation with the local self-government body within 6 months of commencement of the work,

b) public hearing should be conducted at the affected area after giving adequate publicity about the date, time and venue for the public hearing to ascertain the views of the affected families to be recorded and included in the SIA report

c) the appropriate government shall ensure that the SIA report is evaluated by an independent multi-disciplinary Expert Group constituted as per sub-section 2 of section 7 of the Act

d)  a preliminary notification under section 11 with details of land to be acquired for the project shall be published in the official gazette, in two local newspapers of which one should be in the regional language, uploaded on the government website, in the affected areas and in the offices of the local self-government bodies

e) where a preliminary notification is not made within 12 months from the date of the appraisal of the SIA report then it shall be deemed to have lapsed and a fresh SIA report shall be required to be undertaken prior to acquisition proceedings under section 11 of the Act

f)  the administrator shall prepare a draft Rehabilitation and Resettlement Scheme which will include entitlements, as per the provisions of the Act, of each land owner and landless whose livelihoods are primarily dependent and affected by the project.

g) the Gram Sabha or local self-government body should be informed about it

h) the State government shall constitute a State Monitoring Committee for reviewing and monitoring the implementation of  R & R Schemes under the Act

i) the consent letter from each affected and dependent individual (not organization, mandal or group) should be taken before commencement of work on the project

j) the appropriate government shall establish one or more authorities known as the LARR Authority to provide speedy disposal of disputes relating to land acquisition, compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement.

As per The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, section 3 sub-section 4 of clause C, all families are eligible, whose primary source of livelihood is dependent on forests or water bodies and includes gatherers of forest produce, hunters, fisher folk and boatmen and such livelihood is affected due to acquisition of land. Also includes the amendments made to this Act from time to time in 2014 (social impact assessment and consent) and 2015 (compensation of loss, rehabilitation and resettlement and development schemes).

The NMPSS has therefore demanded as per the Act the OBC/SC/ST/VJ/NT Agri-Koli and Adivasi communities of Vashi village be paid compensation of Rs. 15 lakhs per family for loss in fishing business during the execution of the present project. Due to the social impact expected to follow, start work on the project only after fulfilling the demand of providing jobs and business in the Central and State governments, municipal corporation, CIDCO, MIDC, and co-operative organizations along with permanent stall/shop/space of 150 sq. ft. each in the corporation’s market as a means of permanent livelihood.

The Sanstha will spread awareness of these rights and provisions of the Act to every householder affected by the project, stated Dashrath Bhagat.

The other demands made include:

  • Not to construct the foundation of the pillars of the proposed bridge in such a way that will obstruct the flow of water and make the distance between the pillars wider to ensure smooth flow of water,
  • Remove the round concrete support given to pillars of the 2nd bridge on the highway and dispose the debris at the site allocated by the corporation,
  • Do not dump debris dug out for the foundation of the new bridge in the creek. Transport it to the site allocated by the corporation,
  • Considering the construction period of 4-5 years for the project, loss of revenue @ Rs.1000/- per day, due to disruption in fishing and allied earnings during the execution of the project, for 4 years should be paid as compensation to each affected family,
  • Develop the land near the highway for providing Agri-Koli foods to the commuters on the highway and to sell fish, as a means for livelihood,
  • Provide stalls/shops/space to sell various products in the corporation’s market and in the new food mall on the highway to the PAP families, where bus halting facilities will also be developed,
  • Provide fishing ponds near the coast to the project affected,
  • Give fishing contracts to the project affected in ponds across the State,
  • Give 50 per cent jobs and material supply contracts in the project to the local people,
  • Allot land in the TTC industrial area to the PAPs of the project to set up industry or do business,
  • Since the fishermen will have to venture beyond the 12 nautical miles due to suspension of fishing in the creek during the construction, the government should provide modern boats and nets as also an upgraded and new jetty,
  • Provide a grand wholesale fish market for the PAPs like the APMCs,
  • Provide small cold storage boxes to the affected and dependent fishing families,
  • Provide a well-erected ghat for performing the last rites in place of the ‘late Manjula Sitaram Bhagat Dashkriya Vidhi Ghat’ that will be dismantled due to the project and is presently used by citizens of Vashi, Juhu, Turbhe, Sanpada, Nerul, Kopri, Bonkode, Koparkhairne and the city for the last rites of departed souls,
  • Provide a service road for the fisher folks to go the bridge and the jetty,
  • Give toll free passes to the PAPs for travelling throughout the State,
  • Immediately commission the sanctioned service road beside the highway in Vashi village,
  • Widen the toll plaza to avoid accidents and inconvenience due to surge in traffic,
  • Take measures to control pollution levels that will be caused by the increasing number of vehicles to the affected families in the vicinity,
  • As per rules of highways provide service road from Vashi to Belapur,
  • Give sand extraction contracts to the project affected,
  • Give quarries to the families whose fishing occupation is affected and Provide an exclusive Marine University for children of the PAPs in the region.

The said movement, inspired by the Sanstha’s pillar of strength, the firebrand PAP leader late D.B. Patil, could catapult into a national movement, as it concerns the rehabilitation and resettlement rights of every person or livelihoods affected by any project across the country. Particularly fisher-folks and all those dependent on fishing activities, in spite of being specifically mentioned in the Act, are deliberately and illegally denied their rights, stated Dashrath Bhagat.

Sanjay Yadav, Devendra Khade, Suraj Desai, Shailesh Ghag and other members of NMPSS participated in the organization of the press meet.