Friday, November 25, 2011

Callousness in waste management by Municipalities in Kochi

It is nothing but the waste disposal and waste management issues that rake up in every day media stories in Kochi. there is nothing positive but mismanagement and callousness of the stake holders that fill the columns of the newspapers every day. Other day, I was shocked by the media report featuring Kalamassery Muncipal chairman statement on waste management. According to the reports he has stated that every one should process and settle the garbage in their own courtyards and Municipality cannot take the responsibility any more. I sense this as the common disease in the governance structure that requires immediate curing. I cannot appreciate this stand any more for the following reasons;

1. I wish the municipalities in Kochi area understand the floor area and land owning structures of each apartment and conventional houses. Many times, it is found that there is no room for waste disposal that leads to the throwing away the disposal in the open ground wherever sited. Municipality only has given the permission as per the plan and building rules. if any one has violated the building rules, they be found guilty and brought before the rule of law.

2. Hon. Kerala High Court has intervened in the waste management mechanism and suggested legal remedies. But what are the rules made by the respective municipalities? what are the plans they have to manage garbage disposal?

3. Issue here that no one recognizes the mandates for a local Government. Even the Municipal chairman thinks that 'a clean and healthy living environment' is not their duty to ensure with. If that is the case, why do we need a Government?

I believe that Municipality has definite role in city management. They can't escape from their responsibilities. Waste management may not be or not ought to be a responsibility of a municipality but they have the responsibility of ensuring a livable environment. if they believe in the rule of law to ensure calm and peace in the neighborhood, same is the case with the healthy environment to be ensured. it is a legal entitlement citizen enjoys in a democratic country.

Instead of disowning from the issue, Municipality has to come up with the stringent guidelines for waste management system for outsourcing it to the best player in the field.From the past, it is proved that no Municipality or Corporation has got the requisite expertise to handle the waste management and processing plants. Instead, they should concentrate on regulating and monitoring of the procuring agencies into the business. Municipality can easily photograph the waste disposal by private agencies and post them on their websites and FaceBook pages. GPS can be utilized to test the efficiency level of the agency than getting into political debates in the council hall.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Feeder system in Kochi - Share auto services

Shared service transport systems like share autos, share taxis or buses which feeds commuters to other modes of transport. Primarily they are small vehicles accommodating 5-8 passengers which can travel through narrow roads. They are flexible as they can commute to any location; convenient as they pick and stop wherever the passengers demands and are available throughout the day, cost effiecient, as people can commute to different locations spending less compared to autos, taxis and buses, and finally they are user friendly as it can provide comfortable seating and other facilities.

  • Permit: Permits shall be given by relevant RTO’s to vehicles to ply as shared feeder system for short distances spanning 5-10 kilometeres. For eg: In Chennai shared services(share autos) travel 6 kms on an average per trip.
  • Shared service vehicles: Popular vehicles used in other cities are maxi cabs (TATA Magic, Mahindra Maxximo), and share autos (Vikram , Arjun etc). Chennai, Alwar, Rajkot, Lucknow, Hyderabad are few major cities where share autos are very common. They help people to reach railways stations, bus stands etc.
  • Best for city like Kochi with numerous bye roads and places without access to public transportation. For eg: Kochu Kadavanthara people can commute to Thevara, Vennala residents to Eroor.
  • The services shall connect the unconnected locations and where accessibility is minimal. The road density (per 100 sqkm) of Kerala is 414kms while the national average is only 74.9 as per Economic Review of Kerala, 2003. Kerala including Kochi has a high rural road penetration which means that by introducing such services, we can provide accessibility to the rural population of Kerala. Further the road density/lakh population is 505.46 when the national average is 259.20, which shows that a large population lives in a single area. Providing access to such areas would therefore support a huge population of people. The demand for such services is therefore huge which the current KSRTC and private buses are finding it difficult to operate.
  • Connectivity to major transit points: The services shall enable people to travel to major bus terminals like Kaloor and KSRTC Bus stand, jettys like Ernakulam jetty, Fort Kochi and Vypin Jetty and Vytilla Mobility Hub. Facilities shall be provided in railways stations, bus stand, jettys and mobility hub for such services to drop and take in passengers resembling ‘hop on hop off’ services.
  • Suitable to Kochi : As per the Economic Review, the roads are narrow (varying from 11 m to 26m) and congested leading to distortions in traffic and slowing the pace of traffic movement. Introduction of new buses and building infrastructure will not help a city like Kochi which has very less space for expanding of roads. In such scenarios shared services which take very less space and accommodate more people than private vehicles will be a useful alternative. With BSIII norms coming into places, the pollution levels and energy levels can be controlled.
  • Operational ease: The drivers shall be at liberty to fix routes and ply in areas where there is a considerable population looking to travel short distances to catch a bus, boat or train.The service shall allow maximum 7 people to travel at a stretch and a distance depending on the landscape pattern. Such services shall be useful in during nights or early morning and also facilitate passengers to commute to offices on a daily basis. Major offices centres like Panampilly Nagar, Kakkanad
  • Support other services: The services shall not substitute existing transport modes like buses, but augment the services. The shared services which operate as feeder systems to buses, trains and proposed metro rail can provide the required ridership. For a person travelling from Netoor to Muvattupuzha. He can take a shared service till Vytilla Mobilty Hub and get buses from the Hub. Likely conflicts between buses and such services can be avoided by fixing routes and time on a case to case basis. For Eg: Buses plying between Fort Kochi and Cherai shall not be affected by short services to various locations like Munnambam, Elakunnapuzha, Kadamakudy etc
  • Fares are reasonable: The fares shall be fixed according to kilometers travelled and range from Rs 3 to Rs 10. For Eg: In Chennai, a typical share auto charges Rs 5 for 1.5 kilometers and Rs 15 for travelling around 6 kilometers. The fares shall be flexible depending on the location and time but monitored by relevant authorities.
  • Incentivise passengers: Passengers travelling in buses or boats can be incentivized to use such services. Giving offers, monthly passes and other facilities will be useful to attract commuters. For eg: Special offers for travelling to Cherai beach or visit Palipuram Fort. Tourist centres in locations like Cherai, Kadamakudy, Vypin, Kadambrayar (Pallikara) etc can leverage on such opportunities.
  • Huge Employment opportunity: Huge employment opportunity can be created by allowing such shared services to operate. As per our Study in Chennai, the share auto industry generates revenue of Rs 2 Crores per day which is 66 times more than Chennai MRTS collection. They carry around 1.8 million passengers every day and are one of the most preferred modes to commute to locations within and outside the city.

    Kochi can become the first city in India to formally integrate shared services like share autos as a feeder system.

- Few Routes where such services can be utilized:


Kakkanad- Palikkara
Kakkanad- Infopark- Edachira
Kakkanad- CSEZ - Karingachira- Irumpanam- Thripunithura
Kakkanad- HMT Junction –Pukkatuppady
Kakkanad- Thuthiyoor- Vennala- Chalikavattom


Thripunithura- Eroor- Vennala
Thripunithura- Maradu- Kundanoor- Panangad
Thripunithura- Karimughal
Edapally- Elamakkara
Edapally- Amritha Hospital
Edapally- CUSAT- Thrikakkara


Kadavanthara- Kochu Kadavanthra- Panampilly Nagar- Thevara
Kadavanthra- Kathrikadavu- Kumaran Asan Nagar- Kaloor
Kadavanthara- Subhash Chandra Bose road –Thammanam
Kadavanthra – Gandhi Nagar


North –Kacherippadi-Chittoor
North-Ayyappan kavu-Pachalam
Kacheripady- Vaduthala
Kacheripady- SRM Road
Chittor- Cheranaloor- Manjummal- Eloor- Pathalam- Edayar


Vypin- Elamkunnapuzha- Cherai
Vypin- North Paravoor- Kadamakudy
Cherai- Munnabam- Chendamangalam


Thopumpady- Panayampilly- Kapalandimukku- Mattanchery- Fort Kochi
Thoppumpady- Perumpadapu- Edakochi- Kumbalangi- Aroor

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Urban eco system - a change over to M G Road

by D.Dhanuraj

Urban ecosystems are evolved over the ages. Cochin has ignored rich and traditional past. Fort Kochi and Mattancherry are good examples of how planners can kill the rich culture and traditions of an ecosytem. In my school classes, I was so curious to study about these places and I was so excited to be in the land of historical importance. I was shocked when I got an opportunity to visit these places as I grow older. These places are dead are does not carry any vibrancy that I had learnt in my school classes. From M G Road to Fort Kochi, it takes an hour by bus. my History teacher had taught me that Fort Kochi and Mattancherry are part of Historical ferry centres. but where are they?

today, M G Road is undergoing such a change over. The planners say that they have diverted the city traffic to help metro rail construction. Mobility hub at Vyttila has helped them to decongest the city. but it also raises a question on traffic ban in Cochin city? have the authorities ensured accessibility to M G Road to commuters? Buses could be replaced by mini buses, autos and share autos. in the last two years, whenever i drive on M G Road, I am greeted with 'For rent' banners on the buildings on both sides. In recent times,I am told that many are vacating M G Road for Metro rail construction. I do figure out that M G Road is becoming increasingly deserted and the site rings alarm bell for all of us.

I do not want M G Road to become another Fort Kochi. Proper arrangements for connecting M G road with the outside world shall be there even during theses changing times. dont think that metro will solve the woes and plights on M G Road. rather it shall be converted as a walking mall. it shall be an aspiring destination for on street food cafes and entertainment. let the city grow eastwards and the business and commercial establishments also let loose with these developments. it gives ample opportunities for the eco system to rearrange itself to provide the best street amenities on M G Road to the public at large. lets have free rides and green space and window shopping on M G Road !!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Parking in Kochi


Parking has been a major concern for all countries, states, local authorities and traffic police across the world. Parking has now been taken as a part of the larger traffic and transport development by the entities concerned with city development. Since the effects of parking has direct relation to traffic movement and at the same time car sales are considered as a measure of urban development.

Parking has been given minimal importance in the various city plans in India. Though the National Urban Transport Policy 2006 mentions about the need to integrate parking into city development plans (CDP), very few states have taken the lead. Fortunately Kerala has been one of the states which have framed a policy under the directions of Ministry of Urban Transport as per the JNNURM scheme. The Kerala Parking policy is a noteworthy attempt inspite of the fact that it does not contain a clear strategy to implement parking management methods. In fact Mizoram and Sikkim has come out with a policy to regulate parking by heavily restricting car ownership, following the Japan model of Proof of Parking. A Sikkimese needs to show that he has parking space while buying a car, was a clear indication of the hill state to decrease the proliferation of private cars. While such policies may not be replicated in other states, there is an urgent need to relook the strategy of the state towards parking keeping mind the huge growth of private cars. Building flyovers and roads would not facilitate the huge growth of private vehicles, let alone providing huge parking spaces (multilayer or otherwise).

There has been no data to calculate the number of parking spaces required to facilitate the 9,38,124 vehicles been registered in Kakkanad RTO office alone as on 2010. Even if we see that less than 5 percent of the total registered vehicles travel through the city a point of time. The parking demand is still very huge compared to its supply. The question here is whether we need to provide more parking spaces or provide regulations for parking or car ownership to restrict private cars into the city. Restrictions in parking or car ownership will require a better public transport system and a seamless traffic management system. This is however a long term process demanding time and money. New York and Hong Kong have excessively priced parking topping the list of the most expensive list to park your vehicle at monthly rates of $933 (Rs 42,237) and $ 745 (Rs 33,726) respectively as per Global Colliers International Parking Rate Survey 2010. While India states of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai figures among the lowest in the world with $1.28 (Rs 58), $1.07 (Rs 48.4) and $ 0.96 (Rs 43.42) respectively. Parking rates are often fixed excessively to discourage people to use private vehicles and often act as an incentive to use public transport.

Interestingly if we go by the National Urban Transport Policy, which mentions that parking rates shall be calculated according to the land value and land use pattern. Then it would be interesting to note what the parking rates in places like Marine Drive, Kaloor or South Junction would be.

The need of the hour is to devise parking management strategies aligned to the growth of traffic and the necessity of balancing growth in terms of car use, space and public transport. Kochi which has already found its place in the urban map through its projects like Vallarpadam Transhipment Terminal, Metro, Smart City etc will need to systematically plan its growth through traffic and parking management strategies. The common perception that providing parking space is the duty of the state and extends to right of the citizens to demand marking is skewed. This can be correlated to the predicament of asking the state to give a room to keep ones Air Conditioner!! Making parking costly and encouraging people to use public transport is the model which needs to be followed. At the same time, there is a need to clearly demarcate parking spaces and provide parking options through multilayer parking facilities or other models at a PPP basis. Parking structures shall be developed as a revenue generating model for the Corporation by renting out parking spaces and attracting investment. Other strategies which have been followed to restrict parking is making car ownership very costly by increasing taxes like in Netherlands, where the car cost is less than the total taxes spend for buying a car. Kochi and Kerala need to move ahead of other states by taking the lead through such policy interventions intend to ease city development.