Kerala Tourism has done precious little to tidy up the Ernakulam Boat Jetty and its premises, despite the tourist season nearing its peak in the State.
Four years after it was opened, the department has only left a trail of promises on the upkeep of the jetty, which is used daily by thousands of passengers and tourists to commute in the city-West Kochi route. The deteriorating jetty building and its three-acre premises did not make a turnaround, despite Tourism and Transport Ministers in the UDF and LDF governments visiting the locale and issuing orders to ensure its upkeep.
The formal inauguration of the building was never conducted. Neither has any clean-up drive been done, thought the Tourism Department’s regional office is located on its first floor. The stains of pan masala spit all over the walls and layers of bird droppings on the floor provide visitors with an unpleasant experience.
Hibi Eden, MLA, had convened two meetings to clean up the place. The Tourism Department, however, seems to be taking its time to release funds to the Central PWD to execute the repair works. “Inadequate coordination among different departments is to blame for the jetty’s plight. Little is being done despite plenty of Central tourism funds being available to tidy up the premises,” Mr. Eden said.
“Kerala Tourism owns the building and a major share of the land here and should thus ensure its upkeep. It is now trying to pass the buck to other agencies,” said S. Padmanabha Mallya, secretary of the West Kochi Boat Passengers’ Association. Families prefer to keep away from the jetty because of its deplorable condition and inadequate lighting, he said.
The department is yet to clear its dues to the Central PWD.
The proposal to install a power sub station and high-mast lights here remains on paper. The digging of a borewell too is long overdue.
Sources in the Central PWD expressed concern over the fact that the parking area that can accommodate 148 cars and buses was being under-utilised. “We have finalised a contract to clean up and repaint the jetty, to dig a borewell and to pave the approach road. Work will begin in a month and be over by March. The construction of a sub station will follow.”
A Tourism Department official said that the department owned 1.27 acres, while the rest was shared between the Water Transport Department and the KSRTC. “The District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) is better placed to maintain the jetty. Once the repairs are over, it could be handed over to them. The jetty’s upkeep is crucial to extend the Marine Drive walkway towards Rajendra Maidan.”