Kochi: The dangers of persisting civic issues plaguing Kochi were not lost on the authorities and public as the city witnessed flash floods, toxic fumes and tragic road accidents of late. People's representatives and experts, who took part in the Youth Summit organised by the All-India Professionals' Congress-Kerala chapter on the topic 'Changing Kochi Towards Changing Times', stressed on the need to have well-planned action rather than ad hoc measures to redress them.
Infrastructure issues faced by Kochi city, including tackling of waterlogging, cannot be resolved in a short period of time and quick fixes are not going to work, Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden said while speaking at the Summit here on Saturday.
A slew of issues plaguing the Metro city and possible solutions came up for discussion during the three-hour long panel discussion led by Muralee Thummarukudy, the chief of disaster risk reduction, UN Environment Programme.
“Kochi is not a planned city. It doesn't have a proper plan and whatever plan it has is already outdated. The city needs a master plan for revival, and it should be a scientific one,” Hibi said. In reply to a participant's query as to what can be done to tackle waterlogging during the next rainy season, Hibi said “nothing”. “Only long-term solutions are going to help,” Hibi added, remembering how his family also suffered as his house inundated in a flash flood last year.
Muralee said Kochi has the potential to develop better than cities like Singapore, Dubai and Amsterdam. “However, Kochi can develop only if decisions related to the city are taken here,” he said, pointing out the flaws in the administrative structure. “Kochi will develop if the mayor of the city has the powers of its resources,” he said. The UN expert warned of waterlogging disrupting life in some parts of Kochi even for 50 days a year in near future.
Lawyer and environmentalist Harish Vasudevan said Kochi's biggest problem is air pollution. He also stressed the need for proper management of land resources. “Land development is impossible without the collapse of the real estate sector,” he said.
Harish also pointed out the flaws in the upcoming Brahmapuram waste-to-energy plant.
Urban planner Thomas said it was important for Kochi to follow the sustainable development narrative that society, economy and environment need to grow together.
Nirmala Padmanabhan, associate professor, St Teresa's College, who has been at the forefront of a movement to ban plastic, said priority should be given to solid, liquid and septage management. She also rued the lack of proper data of the waste accumulated in the city.
AIPC Kerala president Mathew Kuzhalnadan and secretary Sudheer Mohan also spoke. TV journalist Sreeja Shyam moderated the discussion.