Master plan for Kochi will be long in coming as finalisation of blueprint runs into a cul-de-sac
The master plan for Kochi and its surrounding areas, spade work for which began in 2003, will be long in coming because there is no sign of the Joint Town Planning Committee, set up to take the project forward, holding a meeting in the near future.
Town Planning Department sources said the Department of Local Administration had recently signalled for a meeting of MLAs from areas for which the master plan is being prepared. However, there is no hard-and-fast directive on the time schedule.
The department has approached the Mayor of the Corporation of Cochin to convene the meeting of the MLAs. But there is no saying when the MLAs’ meeting, meant to pave the way for a meeting with the heads of the local bodies, will take place.
The Mayor, who is currently out of Kochi, could not be contacted for comments. However, a senior member of the council said on Thursday that the local bodies, areas which fall under the master plan, had raised several objections against the draft plan.
The objections came up apparently because they mixed policy issues with issues raised by the master plan for a comprehensive framework for long-term development.
The member of the council said the first meeting on the draft plan saw a lot of questions on the policies of the government.
Policy decisions could be taken by the Joint Town Planning Committee, he said pointing out how the finalisation of the master plan ran into a cul-de-sac. Kochi’s continuing traffic woes, poor road infrastructure, scarcity of drinking water and growing health issues could be blamed on the lack of a comprehensive plan for the city, the council member said.
The plan is being prepared for Corporation of Cochin area; municipalities of Maradu, Thripunithura, Aluva, Kalamassery, Eloor and Thrikkakara; and the panchayats of Thiruvankulam, Cheranellur, Varappuzha, Kadamakkudy, Mulavukadu, Elamkunnappuzha, Njarakkal, Kumbalam, Kumbalangi, Chellanam and Vadavukode-Puthenkurisu.
The draft of the master plan was prepared in 2011 and submitted to the government. People’s representatives in the local bodies concerned came together for a meeting, which turned out to be stormy and fruitless because majority of the local bodies called for substantial changes in the draft.
The local body representatives primarily demanded changes in the land use patterns suggested by the draft plan.
Most of the local bodies were angry at the demarcation of wetlands and paddy lands in the draft plan, which as per government policy, cannot be altered or filled up for development.
The Paddy and Wetland Conservation Act 2008 does not allow conversion of these land masses for any other purpose. So this is not an issue the Joint Town Planning Committee can address, according to a senior official in the Town Planning Department.