"Urban Typhoon workshop reaches Kaloor North"
The Urban Typhoon Neighborhood Workshop reached its second destination today at Vailoppilli Smaraka Park in Kaloor North. 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” campaign in Kochi.
The Urban Typhoon Neighborhood Workshop series is a really great example of getting the residents excited about their neighborhoods. Today, the organizers urged the residents to help identify the common issues, problem-specific issues and positive aspects of the neighborhood. “Outsiders see something that the insiders are not seeing. For us Kochi is very beautiful,” said Rahul Srivastava from Urbz as he encouraged the residents of Kaloor to not just think about what needs to change in the neighborhood, but also that what needs to be preserved. The morning session of the workshop involving an initial group discussion and neighborhood walks, with residents and a mixed group of experts, gave a general understanding of the context, its people, their habits and lifestyles. Five thematic areas were chosen for further discussion and study. These included canals, solid waste management, Traffic congestion, vacant land parcels and positive aspects of the neighborhood.
During the focus discussions, the group dealing with traffic congestion recognized the lack of pedestrian infrastructure, improper traffic junction designs at nodes, on-street parking, absence of demarcations of auto stands and the absence of Paratransit and immediate public transport services. The group dealing with solid waste management identified the mismanagement of waste collection in the neighborhood. The existing system deployed by the municipal corporation is functional but requires further interventions for maximum optimization. Discussions ensued about how urban waste management could possibly result in the generation of economic benefits.
The canal group realized that the open canal systems which once served as the main transport arteries of the city have turned into dump yards. Not only is household waste and sewage being dumped irresponsibly and illegally into them, but the adjoining properties have encroached into the canals in several areas, reducing it to a mere 1.5-meter wide drain. Residential apartments have come up in large numbers along these canals, affecting the canals at the same time. During high tide, the water rises to about three feet and there is a backflow of water into these homes. This is compounded by the issue of vacant plots being used as dump yards in the vicinity. Moreover, the deteriorating canals are a breeding ground for mosquitos, rodents, and diseases.
On a positive note, the residents feel that the Kochi metro is a success and free from political intervention. They also recognize that some of the problems might arise from a lack of feeling of responsibility amongst the current residents, a majority of whom are migrants from outside Kochi or NRI’s who spend very little time in Kochi. Along with expert interventions, it is necessary to build a sense of community, raise civic sense and also make the RWA more active for future development.
The result is a treasure trove of data from the local residents, generation of interest in sustainable solutions for the future, and general interest and commitments for attending and supporting future activities related to the project. The "Urban Typhoon" series next travels to Fatima Roman Catholic Church Parish Hall, Elamkulam, Ernakulam on Thursday, June 6th.
“EnteKochi” – coming soon to your street!