14th May 2008
On the 13th of May 2008, the members of the Machhimar Adhikar Rashtriya Abhiyan performed a street play in the coastal village of Karanja for “jan jagruti” or awareness generation. The Karanja Machhimar Vividha Karyakari Sahakari Society Ltd. catalyzed this rendezvous with the coastal residents.
Touring the Alibag belt now, the activists of the “Machhimar Adhikar Rashtriya Abhiyan” organized by the National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF), found that 10,000 acres of farm land and greenery including mangrove vegetation would be affected by a port as part of an SEZ, proposed to be constructed by Reliance. 135 coastal villages of which 80 are exclusively dependent on fishing would be affected by the project estimated to cost approximately rupees 20,000 crores. “50,000 traditional fisher folk would be displaced from their traditional livelihood forever as the SEZ would legally encompass the area of 22 km into the sea” the villagers of Revas Bodani apprehended. The proposed container port would destroy a large tract of mangrove forest which keeps a fragile ecosystem in homeostasis, impacting both the livelihoods the environment. There are local agitations in the fishing villages. The villagers recall that there is no direct proposal for purchasing the land but according to informants, a few contractors and middlemen have already acquired land in the area.
After the ride to the next campaign site of Thal port where a quick meeting was underlined with the following three slogans, the campaign proceeded to the urban region near the district administration’s head-office at Alibag. The slogans that have punctuated the campaign today are as follows;-
“Samudra Amcha Kolencha, Nahi Konacha Bappacha”
“Kinara Amchi Kolenchi, Nahi Konachi Bapachi”
“Jo Humse Takrayega, Pani me doob jayega”
Kamane wala Khayega….. Lootne wala Jayega”
The Shri Martoi Varsoli Machhimar Vividh Karyakari Sahakari Society Ltd. was our next stop. Various delegates like Mr Changa Posha Kulam, Chairman of Martand Vividh Karyakari Sahkari Society; Mr. Balkrishna Mahaden Koli. A street play group which has joined the abhiyan till Goa enthusiastically performed their play which humorously splashes through the issues and the charter of demands which are advocated by the abhiyan. Mr Nandu Kumar Patil the Maharashtra Pradesh secretary spoke about the SEZ’s and the proposed shift from CRZ to CMZ regulation which threatens the livelihoods of people and the coastal ecosystem.
The abhiyan is now mingling with more villages along the Alibag coast. The Abhiyan creates an electrifying atmosphere along the coast and is greeted by warmth, everywhere the communities are spontaneously receiving the Abhiyan and enthusiastically expressing their solidarity with the cause. The abhiyan traversed across 5 fishing villages yesterday and have today resumed their yatra from Rajauri village in Mulund Taluka, Raigarh, Maharashtra where over 200 fisher people gathered to watch the play and energetically took over shouting the abhiyan slogans expressing their faith in the cause.
Three hours from Rajauri the next meeting was scheduled at the village of Bharatkhol in Trivardhan Taluka, Raigarh district, Maharahstra. At 1:18pm, the street play has been performed and the audience joined in shouting the campaign slogans. Currently, Mr. Rambhau Patil, Chairman Maharashtra Machhimar Samiti is sharing his views with the villagers regarding the proposed Coastal Management Zone regulation.
The journey highlights the stories of various fishing villages along the east and west coasts of India before reaching Kolkata. The energies roused along the Indian coast traversed by the Abhiyan and manifested in the concrete 15 points Charter of Demands of the fisher people’ would culminate in a dharna in front of the Parliament during its monsoon session. In each place people are committing to participate in the Sansad Abhiyan in July in large numbers.