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Authorities asked to give interim relief to fisherfolk hit by Thane Creek Bridge-III: Bombay High Court

A decision that fisherfolk in and around Thane Creek have not been compensated despite the fact that six months have passed since its verdict on the matter, and that the affected fisherfolk “are not expected to starve” for another year until the authority concerned decides the quantum of compensation payable to them was decided by the Bombay High Court through a division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice Milind Jadhav in the case of Mariyayi Machhimaar Sahkari Sanstha Maryadit v. Department of Fisheries, Maharashtra and others (WRIT PETITION NO. 2016 OF 2021)

FACTS OF THE CASE:

On August 12, 2021, a division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice Milind Jadhav issued a decision on a writ petition filed by Mariyayi Macchimaar Sahkari Sanstha Maryadit, a cooperative society of fisherfolk from Vashigaon, Juhugaon, Koparkhairane, Ghansoli, and Diva, raising concerns about the welfare of members of their community in and around Thane creek. While approving the six-lane Thane Creek Bridge (TCB) – III on the Sion-Panvel Highway, the HC ruled that the construction will interfere with the “customary right” of fisherfolk who live along the creek. 

The court ordered the establishment of a “TCB compensation committee” to consider compensation for project-affected fishermen. It also urged the state government to develop a strategy to compensate fishermen and members of any other group whose right to a living is jeopardized by government infrastructure projects.

On February 16, the court was informed by counsel Zaman Ali, who represents the petitioner society, that the aggrieved fisherfolk are still unable to engage in any fishing activity and are still owed compensation under the judgement. The court was told that the authority in question will take at least a year to resolve the matter of compensation.

JUDGEMENT:

The court ordered the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) to produce an interim report notifying it of the amount of interim compensation necessary to be given to the fishermen as soon as possible, but no later than two weeks from the date of the order.

The bench also found “merit” in statements by Senior Advocate Sharan Jagtiani, who has been appointed as Amicus Curiae to assist the court in the matter, that suggestion in the draft compensation policy, which is based on the policy put out in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order. Instead, he stated that the earlier judgement provides exhaustive ideas that should be considered when developing any policy for establishing customary rights of those impacted and the methodology for future compensation, which the court “prima facie” recognized.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY REETI SHETTY

Click here to view judgement

 

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