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In Focus

Smitten by tourism, locals risk life, limb

“During the monsoons, the sea enters our homes and the view our home provides tourists is spectacular. It’s like living under a waterfall,” says Shetbunder resident Someshwar Bhoir. The USP of Bhoir’s home—its proximity to the sea—happens to be the very bane of their new-found trade.

'During the monsoons, the sea enters our homes' - Someshwar Bhoir

Someshwar’s daughter, incidentally, was born in a boat while his wife was being transported to mainland by sea when in labour. ‘Sagar’ as she was named is now married, lives in the mainland but bears testimony to the acute dearth of basic medical facilities leave aside a mid-wife or maternity facilities on the island.

Then, when Sagar was born in the middle of the sea, Someshwar realised the dire need for medical facility for locals on the island more than the need for tourism. Now, decades later, he looks forward to ‘developing’ his home for tourists arriving through a home-stay arrangement. Today, Sagar’s picture remains framed on a wall, the angst of her birth without medical facilities a memory forgotten.

Now, apart from the fact that they won’t need to take any permissions from the ASI they began to see dreams of developing their homes for home-stays even rent them out to tourism companies.

This report has been prepared for DraftCraft International’s Flagship Initiative, The Elephanta Island Project to research, analyse and determine the rights and liabilities of Islanders, local and foreign tourists vis-a-vis the responsibility of the State towards all stakeholders and natural resources while upholding the law of the land and ensuring the protection of environment that tops the list of priorities. The initiative examines laws and policies regarding islands, sea transport, privacy, women’s rights, health, protection of the environment and rights and liabilities of tourists guaranteed to all by the State in context of the Right To Equality, Freedoms, The Right to Life and Global Conventions to which India is a signatory.