Fishermen in Cuffe Parade are up in arms against an office put up by the state’s Public Works Department on the shore as part of the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial project in Arabian Sea. The office has robbed them, the fishermen allege, of their space for docking their boats and nets. A few weeks back, the then city collector, Shaila A, had slapped a notice on PWD for putting up a permanent structure without requisite sanctions on Plot No 120 located behind Jhulelal Mandir in Cuffe Parade. The collector’s office has said in its notice that the plot between Varuna Cooperative Housing Society and the temple was given to PWD to safeguard it against encroachers. The notice also said that the PWD had cut shrub on the plot without permission. Shaila did not comment on the issue. But PWD’s Superintendent Engineer R K Javanjal said that he had never seen the notice and that all the necessary permissions were taken. Mahesh Tandel, president of the Maharashtra Machimar Sanghatana, said he had approached chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, fisheries minister Eknath Khadse, NCP leader Jayant Patil, and the city collectorate but there was no solution coming. Tandel said the MMRDA told us that permission was given to set up a temporary structure. “But how could PWD dig 9ft under and construct RCC beams here? There are no permissions from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority,” he said. Chitra Wagh, NCP women’s wing chief who took up the fishermen’s cause, said, “There are 280 boats of fishermen in the area and 35 of them used to be kept on this plot. There are two other plots – Nos. 118 and 119, but the government did not part with since they are with Cuffe Parade Residents Association.”

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