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05.06.2019

“Urban Typhoon is Underway in Edakochi”

The much-anticipated Urban Typhoon Neighborhood Workshop series began today with neighborhoods in Edakochi. This is an old settlement of Kochi with rapidly developing infrastructure, which finds itself in the midst of rapidly developing areas and important pan-Kerala transport links. The workshop series in Kochi is open to all citizens and visitors interested in working with us and are willing to engage with community participation.

The workshop was organized by international consultants Urbz on behalf of the Kochi Municipal Corporation and supported by GIZ as a part of the ongoing “EnteKochi” participatory planning activities in Kochi. The event was attended by various stakeholders, including urban planners, architects, engineers, ex-servicemen and local consultants from the resident welfare association, ward committees, and ward councils.

During the initial introduction and interaction session, four primary challenges were identified for further study. The areas included a lake in the neighborhood, a bridge, a parcel of vacant land and solid waste management in the neighborhood. After the identification of the focus areas, the participants divided themselves into groups depending on their areas of expertise. 

The groups then toured each of the sites with the local stakeholders to gain a better insight into these challenges through discussions and site analysis. This also included personal interviews with residents to help collect their perspectives and concerns. This provided additional insights into the nature of the challenges from the ground level.

The second round of group discussions began soon after lunch to further delve into the findings gathered from the tour of the neighborhood. Participants were asked to group the qualitative data and separate them into the areas of knowledge, emotions, ideas and concentrated questions. One of the participants during the discussion said “Edakochi is very beautiful. We love the greenery and the water here…but there are not many people engaging in the traditional industries here anymore. If we go back to the old ways of living it will be the best! “…but we aspire to have all the infrastructure and facilities that Ernakulam has.”

Each of the groups reached a major consensus among themselves, coordinating their opinions and insights into the key issues and solutions for their neighborhood.

Some of the focus issues can be assessed in the points mentioned below:

  • Much of the conversations revolved around how to improve the local economy and provide jobs. Questions were brought to the forefront of discussion, including “are ecological concerns detrimental to local development?”
  • The solid waste management in the neighborhood is quite poor as people cannot afford to pay for waste disposal. More questions were addressed, including whether or not the government will provide a set of bins to all households? One of the participants said, “we must bring back the practice of paddy farming, it will not only encourage people to segregate their waste and prepare bio-fertilizers but also keep the ponds clean as well as reduce their dependency on fishing."
  • One of the discussions with the RWA members was about how a newly built bridge and its side effects led to a unique design deliberation. The residents initially pointed out that the access roads to the bridge were too small. The discussions revolved around land acquisition, compensations from the government and changes to the initial plans. In due course, it was discovered that many of the issues could be solved if the halted plan for construction of a link road could be reversed. 

The three-hour discussion finally revealed the makings of an integrated road development idea which could be combined with canal rejuvenation schemes, reconnecting and opening dead canals as well as linking important economic nodes in the area. The Plan must account for revitalizing old and dormant industries, generating jobs and provide a livelihood to everyday wage laborers. Such a scheme, if brought into fruition, could imagine a future Edakochi with good quality infrastructure, retaining the high quality of life with the water bodies, green areas and a focus on the human scale. Because of the strong groundwork by Urbz, the first workshop today with local stakeholders was engaging and fruitful. The “Urban Typhoon” series next travels to Vailoppilli Smaraka Park, Kaloor north, Ernakulum on Wednesday, June 5th.

“EnteKochi” – coming soon to your street!