The Fort Kochi beach which seldom ran short of filth and garbage, now has an even worse problem – nauseating stench of unprecedented proportions.
Kerala Tourism, Kochi Corporation and other stakeholders did not initiate remedial action, despite the beach playing host to a host of high-profile functions during the December-January peak tourist season.
Calle Hard, a 66-year-old Swedish writer, spoke of how the Fort Kochi beach and the heritage zone have taken a toss for the worse, ever since his first visit five years ago. “The stink is all pervasive, especially along the beach. I come here every winter, seeking a natural breeze and am disappointed with the heritage locale.”
A writer, he wondered how Kochi Corporation and tourism stakeholders could be so lethargic in clearing and scientifically treating garbage. “I go jogging along the historic beach’s walkway and am amazed at the increase in volume of rotting garbage that heaps up as days pass by.”
Mr Hard reminded that ensuring cleanliness is the best deterrent to prevent people from littering a place. “It is sad that members of the society are not bothered about the cleanliness of public spaces here,” he said, wondering why the agencies concerned have not been taken to task.
Perhaps, he does not know that most of Kerala Tourism’s clean-destination campaigns were a damp squib.
This is the fifth winter that he is spending in Fort Kochi. He says he is so fed up with the filth that he is considering not to return the next season, although he loves the beach.
“I am a guest in your country. When I am expecting guests in my home in Sweden I look after that it is tidy. It is a question of courtesy towards the visitors and my own pride. Here, I am experiencing the filth every morning on one of the most beautiful places in Kerala - God’s own Junkyard.
I feel sorry for all the good, generous, charming, intelligent Indians who have to endure this mess every day and for agencies responsible. They cannot hide behind propaganda and fancy tourism brochures for ever,” Mr Hard said.
John, a resident of the area said that vendors, hoteliers, shop owners, visitors and residents are jointly responsible for dirtying the beach. “A few streets too are dirty, because of garbage and plastic waste dumped from house holds. A few families are unwilling to pay a nominal amount to garbage collectors and instead dump them on the road side and canals.”
This is one reason why most canals in West Kochi are extremely dirty and let out an obnoxious stench. On its part, the Corporation is lax in enforcing rules and cleaning them up, he said.