The first detailed project report of the Kochi Metro Rail prepared in 2005 predicted that three panchayats – Thrikkakara, Maradu, and Cheranalloor – would become centres for growth around Kochi. Thrikkakara and Maradu have stayed true to the forecast made 18 years ago to some extent by attracting investments in education, healthcare and hospitality sectors and through better infrastructure. While the two areas have graduated into municipalities, Cheranalloor panchayat still lags behind on the growth scale. The Vallarpadam container terminal road was expected to pave the way for greater investment in Cheranallore panchayat. The wide road provides easy access to the village from the busy High Court junction and Kalamassery. The recently inaugurated Edappally railway overbridge also connects Cheranallore to Edappally junction. These major roads allow the people of Cheranallore to bypass heavy traffic and reach the heart of the city in 30 minutes. In spite of these roads, businesses still find Cheranalloor panchayat less attractive.
“Though the two major roads have been built, the approach roads and other main roads within the panchayat are extremely narrow, just enough to accommodate a bus. Unless they are also developed, people will hesitate before setting up a house or a business here,” said M.A. Mathew, former president of the Cheranalloor panchayath. Except for repairs and resurfacing, most of the roads and bridges in the panchayat, which borders the Kochi Corporation, are the same as they were more than 50 years ago. The existing roads are also poorly maintained.
Another burning problem the panchayat faces is shortage of water. Local residents lodged several protests with the Kerala Water Authority and were promised new water supply lines to quench their thirst. Work on laying the pipeline, however, is taking too long and residents in some parts of the panchayat still receive water only once a week.
The few hospitals, flats and automobile showrooms that have come up in the panchayat recently indicate a reversal in its fortunes. Real estate prices too, are rising steadily. “Cheranalloor still remains primarily a residential area. But things are looking up. Land along the main container terminal road costs around Rs.15 lakh per cent. Near the main road in Chittoor, the price could be around Rs.8 lakh per cent,” said V.A. Aravindakshan, president of the Cheranalloor Co-operative Society Bank. The panchayat, however, does not have the facility to manage the waste that its residents produce. Vacant fields along the roadside are strewn with solid waste and the stench is a constant along most of the panchayat’s roads. “We have been demanding proper waste disposal for several years now,” said Mohan Mangattusseril, secretary of PARWA, a residents’ welfare association.