Some land needs to be given to the Port Trust and some need to be earmarked for our own projects like Logistics Centre and International Trade Centre," said N. Venugopal, chairman of Greater Cochin Development Authority.

From what the authorities have to say, it appears that Marine Drive would emerge as the most important landmark of the city, as it is in Mumbai. With the State government approving development of another 150 hectares in principle for the second phase of Marine Drive development, planners have gone into overdrive.

“A third of the 150 hectares should be left as open space, as it was with spaces like Rajendra Maidan and Marine Drive Grounds, during the first phase. Some land needs to be given to the Port Trust and some need to be earmarked for our own projects like Logistics Centre and International Trade Centre,” said N. Venugopal, chairman of Greater Cochin Development Authority.

Nothing for local people

The authority will have to sell off portions from the remaining area to raise funds to the tune of Rs.700 crore for the completion of the first phase of the Ring Road project. And herein lies the catch.

“This extension process is not going to benefit the local crowd or rejuvenate the local economy. As we can learn from the example of the Container Road (connecting the International Container Transshipment Terminal, Vallarpadom, to the National Highway), projects like these are meant for private developers. The original alignment of the Container Road was altered during the construction to help mega projects like the Medicity,” said Francis Kalathunkal, general convenor of the coordination committee for those displaced for development projects.

The irony of the Marine Drive development is accentuated by the fact that the rehabilitation of the families displaced for the ICTT project is yet to be completed and many families remain in temporary accommodation.

Mr. Venugopal said that the water front identified for extension of Marine Drive has already witnessed encroachment and unless the authority stepped soon, it would be too late. The National Environmental Research Institute and RIGHTS have been shortlisted for preparing the Environmental Impact Assessment and Detailed Project Report.

While rehabilitation packages, like the Moolamppilly package, approved by the government get delayed indefinitely, projects like these seem to take off in no time.

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