Thursday, June 25, 2009

there is always a huge cry about the traffic problems, the pavement problems, garbage problems etc in the city. but the infrastructure development of the outskirts of the city is hardly been discussed. concerns pop up once in blue moon, but they are easily forgotten by people and authorities.

there is much to talk about fort cochin area, where i hail from. the general perception is

'Fort Kochi=Garbage+Mosquitoes'

this is not a recent phenomena. it's been there since ages. gcda, corporation,councillors... everyone has given up and the mosquitoes are ruling the place. garbage bins are always leaking and the cattle wandering on the road like playing with the food packets and plastic wastes.during monsoon the situation is worse. waste of food articles get pasted on road and the plastic bags float in the monsoon water. the drainages are closed in some parts in unscientific manner. this blocks water from its smooth flow through drainage. so the residents get free training in swimming in this 'pure' water.

but recently as the water flow in Rameswaram canal is blocked, people have to swim even inside their houses. the canal is not cleaned frequently it is one of the main reasons for never ending 'mosquitoes'. there are fog engines, 'fog mans' ..... but now the situation is such that mosquitoes can't exist without them! now the residents celebrate the 'mosquito culture' through conducting competitions in mosquito catching.

Bus bays along S.A.Road

I always get down at bus stops along S.A.Road. However, I have always wondered, why there werent any bus bays along the road, given that it is wide enough. The problem is, when you say you want to get down at a particular stop, and you get the ticket for the same, the buses dont consider the stops as the points where you want to get down. They always drop you off somewhere around the point you want to get down at, often a few metres away from the stop. I have had to get down in the middle of the road many a times, when there were mild traffic jams near the stops. And then I would have to play a game of mazes, making my way around the vehicles, finding a safer way to walk. Or, I would have to get down a few metres in front of the designated bus stop, and walk all the way back. ( That, when you dont even have a pavement along the road! That is a different issue though.)

However, it doesnt work the other way round. If you want to board a bus, you wait at the proper bus stop. Else, the buses dont stop and pick you up.

If, however, we were to have properly designed bus bays, we could eliminate this problem. Bus bays would enable the passengers to wait comfortably, and would also ensure their safety while boarding and getting down. It would also be safer for buses to stop as well, since they are moving out of the rest of the traffic. Standard width needed for a bus bay is around 12 feet, and given the width of the road, it shouldnt be hard to accomodate bus bays.

Pothole's own country

The title, I believe, is quite self explanatory. Though quite blunt and probably even offending, it is the reality. Come rainy season, and we have potholes and gutters( read, ponds and lakes) emerging on the roads from nowhere. Pedestrians cannot walk on the roads without stepping to atleast one of these. Either you have to master the art of recognising and then jumping across wide puddles and potholes, or else you have to put up with stepping into all of them. And if you are lucky enough, you might even manage to fall into a drainage which hasn't been cleaned for ages(read, maybe from the days of Hitler)

Pictures of people falling into ditches and potholes on roads are scattered across the newspapers almost everyday. No wonder, accident rates go up during rainy season. It is something like a chain reaction. One person falls into a pothole, the next one trips over him, and so on. Whilst many people across the world travel to Kerala to witness the monsoon, is this what we want to show them? Let alone visitors, think about school children who have to bear the brunt. Most cities now have school roads, which are designed with school children in mind. But here, in Kochin, we have our school children having a hard time walking to their schools. By the time they reach, they are all wet and dirty.

Now the question is, do we want this drama of filling potholes and gutters every year? It has almost become like this annual ritual. You have rains coming, potholes emerging, and then newspapers and channels reporting it, and then as a concluding ceremony, the PWD department filling the holes, only to go through the whole cycle once again, next year. Maybe, it is high time we re-think the tar and bituminous type of road surfacing that we have.

gate adakal!

today morning i got blocked near willingdon island 'level crossing' as a train had to pass. this thought, which i am goin to share now occured to me as cochin might be the only 'big city' in south india which still has a 'level crosssing system'. as far as i know neither in bangalore nor in hyderabad the road transport has to wait for a train to pass. i enquired with my friends and they told me that it's not happening in chennai too. cochin, which is boasting to be one of the best cities in india in next 5 years or so still lack basic infrastructure for road transport.

passengers from paravur to ernakulam and vice versa have a dreadful picture of edappally level crossing because the railway gate is notorious for it's non-cooperation, and often creates trouble. the road is too narrow and insufficient for heavy vehicles to pass on. though government has acquired land for building a wider road, the progress is still taped in a file. it takes at least an hour to remove traffic block in this particular area.situation is not different in many other places inside the city limits. people have been crying for over bridges but authorities are not opening their eyes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Walk in The Rain

Rain evokes different kinds of feelings in different people. Some might like it, some might be overwhelmed by the very sight of it,some might hate the clumsiness of it, or dislike the smell etc etc. I love rain in all senses. But yesterday i had to walk in the rain, in one of the roads of ' the centre of mosquitoes', Fort Kochi. The waste from the drainage system which was totally dysfunctional was floating in the 'mini flood'. This water was splashing on the pedestrians whenever a vehicle passed. I saw a bike rider falling in this water. People had to literally swim to reach the shore. Human waste, animal waste, inorganic wastes, small insects, mosquitoes, smell - everything gave the rain a 'terrible' picture in my mind.

And this is 'Greater Cochin Development'.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Walk in The Park

The Arabian Sea looks onto Kochi with the eyes of a lover. So ardent, so intense. I have always enjoyed their chemistry right from the age I have fancied love. Thanks to the Cochin corporation, they have been so sensitive to this romance and to the responding nature of Kochiites. There are two parks been build right in the heart of the city and also a wide walking space all along the Marine Drive for the people to enjoy the view of the backwaters and also the splendid Cheenavalapalam and Mazhavilpalam. These all are here to compliment your urge to relax after the tiresome day consumed in the office or to spent some quality time with your family amidst the city buzz.

Parks are necessary in every city. Those green shady niches are really an escape for the city population to relax and inhale some fresh air.The idea of a community park popped up in somebody's mind was just for this simple reason. but today, the word park is associated to children. atleast in Kochi. But the concern is not that. We have two parks located adjacent to each other in the Convent Road. One is a public park and the other is the children's park. The public park is free for the public whereas the children's park charges an entry fee of Rs. 5 from an adult. Both these parks are two common hangout places for Kochiites. Long ago.

The scenario has changed topsy turvy now. This blog is with special reference to the Childrens' Park and the Renewable Energy Park constructed inside the park.I had visited the park few days before with regard to my project on biogas which is a renewable source of energy. My entry to this park is the motive for my blog. The Cochin Corporation launched the Renewable Energy Park right inside the Childrens' Park so that the children as well as their parents get familiarised with the renewable sources of energy and make it popularised in the city. It has models of solar water heater, solar battery and how it can be used to generate electricity and also solar cookers, windmills, biogas plant model etc. The Corporation spent lakhs of rupees in this venture and it was bloated by the media well.

Years have passed since its inception and the media lost interest in it. And there lies the Renewable Energy Park at the backyard of the Park unvisited by children or their parents and haunted by tall grasses grown. The models of the windmill and solar panels and biogas plants lay rusted in the ground and the those models when asked to be demonstrated, the person appointed in charge was busy packing his things to go home said in an indifferent manner with a slight tint of sarcasm, that "it won't work. its been so for months!" I had to return disappointed but what made me even more disappointed is the indifferent attitude of the people. Isnt there anybody to just ask why it isn't working. And this park has restricted entry only but still are not they using the money they gain to maintain the park? atleast mow the grass?

Hope there would be greener response to this from the part of the corporation and the Kochiites.