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URAN FISHING COMMUNITY’S SURVIVAL IN DEEP CRISIS DUE TO ILLEGAL LAND RECLAMATION – AN NMTV EXCLUSIVE WEEKEND EXPOSE

uran-5Uran’s ecology and environment are under threat ! Taking advantage of the fact that what happens in Uran mostly goes unnoticed, massive mangrove destruction and illegal reclamation of CRZ land is going on in the node. When our team visited the node we were shocked to see how dumpers and JCBs were being used in broad day light to reclaim CRZ land and mangroves are openly being destroyed. All this is not only becoming a threat to one of the largest fish breeding grounds of the nation but is also put the community of the fishing community in Uran into deep crisis. The fishermen in Uran are known as “masters of water’. This fishing community had been living in the wetlands of for aeons, relying on them for sustenance. They do so by fishing. But now their only source of survival – the creeks of the Arabian Sea is under threat and there is no one to protect them from their deep crisis. If locals are alleging that the massive mangrove destruction and illegal land reclamation being done in Uran is one of the most systematic conspiracies of wicked minds, there is reason for this. To begin with, Uran happens to be one of the most neglected areas with least media and NGOs attention on what’s happening in this node. Exploiting this vulnerable feature of Uran to the fullest, one can see how systematic environment destruction is being carried out in the creek area of the node. NMTV News brings to you exclusive visuals of how allegedly an illegal wall has been erected at this creek side of Uran. Locals say that it is to cut off the flow of the sea water to mangroves and dry them unto death – that this wall has been erected allegedly by Reliance. On the other side of the wall, illegal roads have been built to allow dumpers to move through thick mangrove cover and dump debris. JCBs have been deployed to then level the debris on the CRZ area to give way to open land. Land is being reclaimed and mangroves are being destroyed, as a result, the fish stocks have reduced drastically, directly hitting the only source of livelihood of the local fishermen. Local of the fishing community of Uran say that unlike farmers they have no land that can given them compensation. Creeks are being filled and mangroves are being destroyed and since the sea is their livelihood, no one’s talking compensation with them. In 1991, the Supreme Court had ordered that no further development be allowed in the mangrove-cover areas around Mumbai. Plots allotted prior to the order were also covered in this. Yet the Uran’s lands next to creeks continue to be developed brazenly. Besides rampant reclamation, a host of other problems plague the wetlands – another being pollution that acts as a slow killer. But the authorities-including the Tehsildar, Konkan Commissioner’s Office, the state government and even the Union Environment Ministry-have done little to check the damage. Fishermen made serious allegations against Reliance stating that they are illegally reclaiming land and this is openly being done in alleged connivance with the state government. The freshwater bodies and mangroves that border Uran function as sponges and are nature’s own initiative at flood control. Human intervention for land grab has seriously impaired this function. Besides this locals say that the government is ignoring the fact that snatching away the creek area from the alert fishing community to give land for SEZ will expose the coastal belt to security threats. Wetlands are also home to a large range of birds, mammals, amphibians, fish, insects, crustaceans and reptiles; and a variety of medicinal plant species used by the rural masses to treat many kinds of disorders. While all this is being destroyed, many birds have stopped visiting them. Fishermen say that despite their ancestors living here since forever they are too poor to fight against demons like Reliance. A young girl of the community says that financial conditions at homes are so bad that they can’t even complete their education. Sadly, despite the illegal land reclamation policy-makers and planners fail to act to protect Uran’s ecosystem and the fact that it provides a means of sustenance to thousands of local fishermen of Uran. Overlooking all global warming and climate change concerns, the fragile ecosystem is being exploited in Uran by the land-hungry mafia. Obviously, there is no one to take action against this. Lack of political will and upper hand of vested interests have resulted in degradation, destruction and pollution of the very important eco-system at Uran. Law enforcers are unable to implement the law because of vested interests. Its just a hope that policy makers and political leaders do not wake up to the irreparable destruction taking place in Uran too late because not just environment but even the survival of the fishing community is under threat if Uran’s ecosystem perishes. With Monika Bhosale, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.

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