On extraction and debilitating livelihoods . TAPESTRY collective
On extraction and debilitating livelihoods . TAPESTRY collective

TAPESTRY collective

On Extraction and Debilitating Livelihoods

On extraction and debilitating livelihoods . TAPESTRY collective
On extraction and debilitating livelihoods . TAPESTRY collective . Image: Shibaji Bose

Mumbai, the financial capital of India, and its largest urban agglomeration with an estimated population of 18 million people (Census of India, 2011), is also a megapolis of inequities, with nearly half of Mumbai’s residents live in informal and temporary settlements with limited provision of basic services such as clean water, education, sanitation or healthcare.

The city also consistently ranks as one of the most vulnerable to climate change (World Bank, 2010; UN-Habitat, 2010). Sea level rise, extreme weather events, destruction of wetland and marine ecosystems as well as haphazard planning contributes to the flood proneness of Mumbai, one of its most significant natural hazards. The city still has a number of fishing villages inhabited by the artisanal Koli fishers who are dependent on the resource commons for their subsistence, food security, and livelihoods.

One of these is Uran – a fishing village north of the metropolis that is threatened by a number of infrastructure and urban development projects for almost thirty years. With a population of around 30000 artisanal fishers until a decade ago, it now bears testimony to the perverse impacts of environmentally destructive development. The main livelihood source in Uran has been fishing and approximately 80 % of Mumbai’s fish catch is supplied by its fishers. It also hosts extensive mangrove forests which have come under increasing development pressure from growth demands of the urban agglomeration.

Two of the largest infrastructure projects in Maharashtra state and India – The biggest container port in India – Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, and an international airport have pushed the original koli population to the margins. Wetlands and mangrove destruction have destroyed fisheries habitats. Both projects, have had ecologically destructive effects by closing of feeder channels and culverts affecting inter-tidal flows. The government has also restricted fishing permits in water bodies in the vicinity severely affecting mangrove population and fish biodiversity.

Using photovoice by local Koli youths as a methodology, the exhibition brings forth a microcosm of the conflicts, threats and opportunities due to infrastructure and urban growth, habitat loss, demographic transition and climate change through pictures and narratives.

The work presented here is part of ongoing work from the Transformation as Praxis: Exploring Socially Just and Transdisciplinary Pathways to Sustainability in Marginal Environments (TAPESTRY) project.


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A case from Uran Koliwada (fishers village), Mumbai, India

Members of Koli youth with cameras.

TAPESTRY project, Koli fishers photovoice: Picture1
TAPESTRY project, Koli fishers photovoice: Picture 2

Members of Koli (fishing community) showing affected sites to photovoice participants.

TAPESTRY project, Koli fishers photovoice: Picture 3
TAPESTRY project, Koli fishers photovoice: Picture 4

As part of the photovoice research all the photos and the accompanying narratives are by the Koli fishers.

Towards the end of the photovoice action research, the fishers union won their appeal to the National Green Tribunal. Still the state-business-corporator nexus continues to use overt and covert means to displace the fishers and usurp their livelihood.

TAPESTRY project, Koli fishers photovoice: Picture 38
The struggle of the Kolis for their rights continue.
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