Friday, November 26, 2010

Drive from Palarivattom to Vyttila junction

Yesterday evening, i was driving from Palarivattom to Vyttila junction. I realised that it is more difficult to ride on national highways than on state highways. Though street lights are there, bulbs are are not burning. Recently, NHAI started working on the both sides of the road and creating a gap between the median and the road. it is shallow so that if you are not careful while driving, there is a chance that you may barge into the median (Salman Khan Act !).

i do believe that your riding experience on national highway helps you to understand why we need median of width of 4.5 metres? while driving from Palarivattom to Vyttila, whenever any vehicle stopped to take a right turn, it obstructed the free movement of vehicles behind. i wish both administrators and the general public understand these issues.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inauguration of Senior citizens Forum - Kochi

To tap the rich expertise of the senior citizens of Cochin, the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) is forming a Senior Citizen’s Action Forum, which will give the elderly in Kochi the opportunity to help in research; a platform where they can use their knowledge and expertise for the city’s development.

The forum will be inaugurated by Dominic Presentation, MLA on November 18, 2010, at CPPR’s Elamkulam office at 4 pm. The function will be presided over by Professor M K Sanu (social and literary critic and orator), Deputy Mayor Bhadra Satheesh ,and Mr.P C Cyriac (retired IAS officer) an interactive session with these eminent personalities is also organised for the occasion.

CPPR, a youth-run organisation, is committed to research and project preparation on development policies and government programmes. It conducts projects and prepares reports for various governmental departments and agencies. CPPR is currently focussing on development projects in Kochi, one of which is the Vytilla Mobility Hub. Although the organisation’s ventures in education, governance, alternative dispute resolution and urban reforms are spread across the country, the development of Kerala (in particular Kochi) is its main focus.

CPPR solicits the valuable services of senior citizens, who have retired from civil service, teaching or legal professions to work as liaison officers with the government, semi-government departments and other public institutions. The individuals should be experts in their domains, with knowledge of current developments, and a thorough understanding of the economic, social and political scenario.

For more details, contact Vivek Mathai at 91 9496326956, 0484-6469177.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vyttila watch tower - watching or being watched?

Vyttila is the most busiest junction in Cochin city. Thousands of vehicles criss cross every day through this junction. Demand for a fly over and better transport coordination at Vyttila Junction are over due. Proposed Mobility hub is also planned at Vyttila. To make matters worse, Vyttila junction is an intersection of the national highway and state roads.

In recent times, highway department widened the intersection part of the widening work in Aroor - Edapally stretch. at least for the first time, Cochin has experienced what does it mean by a Free Left at the junctions. but my experience in the last few months is so bad that the free left is often blocked by buses most of the times ! the positioning of the bus stop at the mouth of the free left causes a big problem especially in Aroor Vyttila stretch. most of the times it is KSRTC buses and private buses block the free left ride of other vehicles going to Kadavanthra side.

i wonder is it because of lack of understanding from the drivers side or because of don't care attitude? what about the enforceability? i am surprised that there is Police watch tower at the junction watching all these traffic violations. what is the purpose of watch tower if there is no use. I hope city police and the general public will take this matter seriously.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Road repair in Cochin - a plea to the Mayor

Dear Hon'ble Mayor,

I am pleased to note that you have taken serious note on the bad shape of the roads in Cochin. I would hope this annual exercise is done away with the earnest commitment and dedication to the work carried out. I have not seen repairing of the roads every quarter elsewhere as in Cochin. I hope you would find out the reasons for the same. I am told that on an average 150 new vehicles are hitting the city roads every day. Given the fact that we don't have an efficient public transport system (about which i write later), gutters and potholes lead to wastage of crores of rupees every day on city roads. many a times, i wondered we could have widened over bridges and many rail way over bridges with this money. but who bothers?

Last but not the least, I urge for repair works to be carried out during off peak hours preferably during night. i wish this would not be another burden on the commuting public. As one who represents the middle class and young generation of the city, i sincerely wish you pay attention to the working hours and the loss and damage caused to the companies and offices if these repair works are carried out during the peak hours. As the Mayor of this city, you should appreciate and respect the business economy and general public alike for sustaining this city.




Centre for Public Policy Research

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cochin city has a new council - reasons for defeat

This time, the elections to Cochin Corporation turned to be historical as Left parties led rule in the Corporation came to an end after 32 years. Many say, it was not unexpected but for me, it was larger than expected. An irony of the city all these years was that MP and MLA go to Congress party while the Corporation council was always with LDF. This time, scenario has been changed as UDF registered a thumbing victory over LDF by winning 47 seats out of 74.

Following reasons can be cited for the loss of LDF;

1. Though it was a local government election, over all assessment of the results at the State level indicates that it has been a verdict against the ruling coalition of the State rather at the local level.

2. lack of infrastructure development over the decades.

3. deteriorated conditions of roads, lack of drinking water and failure in sustaining waste management system.

4. lack of vision that is required matching with the pace and development of a metropolitan city.

5. absence of quality services and traditional wisdom prevailing over the progressive thoughts.

6. Corporation office becoming very archaic and insidious to the general public.

7. No new projects and no new developmental initiatives.

8. Absence of a better urban transport system.

9. Alienation of political party leaders from the general public.

10. Disgruntled elements in the ruling party

Wish that incumbent council learns from the mistake and revive the city life !!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Vyttila Junction

By D Dhanuraj

The proposed Vytilla Mobility Hub might change the landscape of this area in the coming years. As forecasted in the feasibility study undertaken by Centre for Public Policy Research, the city Centre may move to this part of the district. Being stalled by the Arabian Sea on the west, city can grow only east wards and Vyttila becomes an ideal junction for the developmental activities.

Every day when i drive from home to office, I have to cross Vyttila Junction. Some days, the traffic may be easier to cross the junction withina few minutes otherwise, bucking ques from all the directions. In the peak hours the time allotted for each side is on average of 25 seconds. My early lessons in Physics class helps me to measure time required to cross 200 metres and i find 25 seconds an average make a mockery of the situation. The cumbstine required for Petrol and Diesel engines are very high at the beginning. the moment the vehicles attain a speed of 10 KM/Hr to cross the junction, the red light beams again and stops the vehicles. In a country where we make hue and cry about the money that we spend for the import of Petroleum products, no one is bothered about the fuel we spend in each minute while we cross the junction at Vyttila because of the anomaly in the switch over time.

I am not sure what shall be the switch over time but i am sure it shall not be 25 seconds. given the traffic congestion there, it shall be well above 45 seconds definitely or more.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bus trip from Cochin Airport

By D.Dhanuraj

The other day when my brother failed to pick me from airport on my way back to Cochin from Delhi, i decided to try out Bus trip from airport. i came out of the airport and looked for sign boards which show the departure time for the buses from airport. i was under the impression that the newly introduced low floor buses that ply between Airport and Aroor would have improved the situation. Unfortunately, i could not find any sign boards there. i was stuck for a moment; what is next?

i could see a regular KSRTC bus waiting on the bay. i went and asked the conductor about the low floor bus. He was not so enthused by my question. He replied that his bus would be starting at 5 PM. Oh, i forgot to mention when did a land in the airport. i had come out of the airport at 4.30 PM !i found that that bus was going to Allapuzha via Vyttilla. I was happy that i could get down at Vyttila to change the bus on my way to home. i thought of waiting for some more time before i get into bus. i was still looking for the low floor bus to come for two reasons; i have not traveled in low floor bus and as a typical Malayali, i was more interested to take it from airport! i was surprised by the fact that no one has any idea about when the bus comes and leaves the airport. when i asked a few staff members of airport,they did not have any idea about it.

when KSRTC bus to Alapuzha was started, i could understand that it is arranged at the convenience of staff of airport than looking at the passengers flow at that time. between 4PM and 5.30 there are many domestic flights landing in airport and i understand most of the passengers are to nearby districts like Kottayam and Allapuzha and even Pathanamthitta. They are in dire needs of transport arrangement like buses. it is high time that there is a coordination amongst the airport authorities and transport department. i am sure low floor buses would not run on loss in that case!

Monday, February 1, 2010

I recently met a Punjabi* who, despite having lived in Kerala for the last 15 years, confessed to not having traveled in buses even once, because he was claustrophobic. He must have received many odd looks from people before, because he looked extremely ill-at-ease confiding this particular facet of his personality to me. I would have probably looked at him oddly too, had I not had a bout of claustrophobia from my recent bus expedition.

Every Sunday I travel by the “Chitoor Ferry” bus from Kacheripady to Vaduthala to teach my kids. I am in no way new to the madness and mayhem that one usually finds at the bus stop. In fact, I consider it a pretty good work-out session. Observe: As soon as the bus halts, I routinely put myself through a quick series of ‘run-skip-jump-grab-hoist-scan-sit or stand’ motion that every public transport user will immediately recognize.

The ‘run’ to the bus queue, the ‘skip’, where I agilely out-maneuver some poor fellow passenger, the occasional, gymnastic and distracting ‘jump’ to get to the front of the queue (usually when the ‘skip’ part refuses to yield results), the ‘grabbing’ and grappling (which eventually follows it) of the bus handle (AHA! I’m at the top of the world! er… step!), the ‘hoisting’ of the body, the quick ‘scan’ for seats, the triumphant ‘sit’ when I get a seat and of course, my not-so-graceful ‘stand’ at the lack of one.

Last Sunday started out pretty ordinary as well. The bus flew in and I got ready to do my routine, but before I could more than flex my muscles, the teeming crowd simply pulled me up the bottom step and into the bus. From then on, I began the Herculean task of simply trying to breathe! The bus was filled to the brim and more people were being stuffed in, just like a sous chef stuffing a turkey! The conductor cajoled, coaxed and prodded us towards the back of the bus, like a sheepdog shepherding sheep. I was jarred to the point of knocking my knees together, found my hair in somebody’s mouth and save for my excellent sense of balance, would have found my face nestled in an armpit! How disgusting is that?

Barely minutes into the ride and I wanted to high-tail it! It was nauseating, this total disregard for personal space and the way umbrellas, satchels and elbows all moulded into a cobweb that kept you locked on the spot. You had to croak to be heard over the deafening roar of the bus engine and either the ticket-walla just missed you or asked you thrice if you’d taken a ticket! All this, not taking into consideration the occassional high heels (ouch!), the groping hand, the accidental taking-the-wind-outta-you punch to the gut... the list goes on and on and on!

When you relive that experience, I can only wonder why I am NOT claustrophobic!

That Indian buses are/were nothing more than ‘hollow metal blocks placed upon a truck-chassis’ is something I learned after the introduction of the Low-Floor buses, which is in reality, the true bus! Dubious piece of information, if you ask me! But I understand a little more about ‘bus-psychology’ now, as I call it. The Truck-chassis (upon which our current Indian buses are modeled) were used to transport loads of weapons to the battle field during the 1st World War. Likewise, in a salute to their pedigree, Indian buses follow suit by loading and unloading passengers of their choice in huge quantities. They drive through the veritable landmine of Indian traffic, skidding to avoid any incoming enemy vehicles. Since a return trip is often unthinkable, and because the money is good, they cram us in like cows to the slaughter! The more the merrier!

There are hardly any studies regarding the seating capacities of such buses. Sure, the seats are numbered and marked, but most buses contain more people than they can hold. People hang on to the railing, the steps and to each other in their eagerness to reach their destination. No one thinks anything about falling down or being thrown out. It is seen as a stray incident. If someone dies, a few organizations hold protests for a week, the opposition calls for stringent measures, TV channel hysterics are aired and the victim’s family loses their privacy in the face of their already potent loss. What of the driver or the owner of the bus? What of the buses that still maniacally rule the roads and continue to flaunt their muscle power? No one gives a damn anymore!

Recently, when someone worriedly bemoaned his son taking off for a survival course in the jungles, I was tempted to tell him that the boy would be perfectly fine. He was in class 9 and traveled regularly by public transport. If you can survive the urban jungle and still manage to reach home by 7 pm, you have my certificate!

(*name withheld for reasons of privacy)