As part of our site visits in Mumbai, on 10th April the TRANSCEND team visited the Versova fishing village or the Versova ‘Koliwada’ which is a settlement of a fishing community called the ‘Kolis’. We first met with a community representative – Mr. Vikas Koli, in his office where he explained the impacts of climate change and the Coastal Road Project on Mumbai’s fishing communities, referring to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its mention of the Coastal Road.

Mr. Vikas explained how pollution and waste management were very big threats to the Versova Koliwada. For example, he showed us a creek inlet which was completely polluted and choked with waste that used to be clear enough to swim in during his childhood. He also showed us an initiative that he had started called “Project Red Dot”– a white disposable bag with a big red dot on it – for disposal of sanitary waste which are a source of pollution. The idea behind this is to help waste pickers and separators to identify sanitary waste and separate it easily – which prevents these from ending up in the water and getting trapped in the fishing nets.

He also explained the organization of the fisher folk in cooperative societies. Membership in these societies is very strongly predetermined and was not possible for migrants from other villages to become members of a cooperative society. We also visited some houses of the fishing community. Many of the newly built houses were built on high platforms and on an elevation – potentially to adapt to flooding.

As part of the TRANSCEND project, it was very interesting to visit a Koli settlement, who are considered to be among the oldest inhabitants of Mumbai. There are several Koliwadas in Mumbai, for example, the Worli Koliwada which has been protesting against increased risk to their livelihoods due to the construction of the Coastal Road.

The representative shared how the younger generations are not very inclined to continue fishing and wish to shift to other jobs such as in the IT industry. He said he is trying to revive their interest in continuing fishing as a livelihood.