Funds for project expected from French agency, says Mayor

The ‘visually polluted’ Kochi is all set for a clean-up act, with French aid expected to install and maintain modern facilities like bus-waiting sheds, kiosks and toilets on streets.

This was decided following a concept presentation of how these public amenities were provided in major cities, including New Delhi.

The presentation was made before Mayor Tony Chammany and a team of civic representatives, by Pramod Bandulla, executive chairman of the Paris-based company JCDecaux.

“Bids will be invited for the purpose and an agency shortlisted to install and maintain these amenities. Funding for the purpose is expected from French development financing agency AFD. Our aim is to clear the city of visual pollution caused by ill-maintained street amenities, hoardings etc.,” Mr Chammany said, while speaking to the media here on Thursday.

The benefit is two fold — these modern facilities will ensure a beautiful city, while augmenting the corporation’s revenue, he said. The agency that would set up the amenities as a PPP initiative will get back its investment through selling advertisement space atop them. The corporation will get a portion of the advertisement revenue without any investment.

Cluttered look

Earlier, Mr Bandulla said that most Indian cities have a cluttered look because of ramshackle public infrastructure and haphazard advertisement boards. Mr Chammany said that AFD has promised help for encouraging use of bicycles in heritage zones like Fort Kochi and Mattancherry.

The Kochi Corporation is planning to pull down all unauthorised hoardings/boards by the month end since they have become eyesores across the city, the Mayor said.

“Very soon, hoardings and boards will be limited to 30 places in the city. Alongside commissioning of Kochi Metro, we need to weed out visual pollution from the city. The clean-up drive is part of this endeavour.”

Encroachers

To a question on encroachers and street vendors obstructing movement of pedestrians and vehicles, Mr Chammany said that a special drive began in December to remove them from footpaths and roads. He spoke of how some encroachers who were evicted are purchasing used cargo autos and selling goods in them, worsening chaos at many junctions. “We have sought the help of Motor Vehicles Department to cancel the permit of these autos since it is an illegal activity.”

On the model-road project envisaged a decade ago in the Broadway-Rajendra Maidan stretch, but became a non-starter, Mr Chammany said that the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry had promised to pool in with help to revive the project. The road is a haven for encroachers and vendors.

Also in attendance at the presentation were Cheikh Dia, Acting Director of AFD South Asia Office (New Delhi) and Gautier Kohler, Project Coordinator (New Delhi) and Elias George, MD of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL).

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