The GCDA is processing contracts for selling advertisement space on Marine Drive walkway and for its annual maintenance.

Come Onam, the walkway on Marine Drive will sport an improved look.

The walkway, marred by poor maintenance, has turned into a late-night haunt for criminal elements.

The Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), which maintains the walkway, is in the middle of processing contracts for selling advertisement space on the walkway and for its maintenance on an annual basis. A few objections about striking deals with advertisers and generating the much-needed income will be sorted out soon, GCDA chairman N. Venugopal has said.

Admitting that the walkway had fallen on hard times, he said the authority had already begun work on lighting up the area.

The GCDA would also formally seek police help to prevent criminal elements from entering the area late at night.

The authority usually posted two guards at the walkway at night. But with the ends of the walkway being completely deserted after about 11 p.m., the number is not sufficient to keep track of the place.

A visit to the Marine Drive on Wednesday showed that the walkway was popular among the city dwellers, many of whom were there on their morning walks.

However, weeds had crept up at the spacious walkway at several spots along its north-south stretch. Damaged lamp posts and benches were also spotted. Mr. Venugopal said the benches on the walkway would also be repaired or replaced as part of the facelift being planned ahead of the festival. He said the walkway did not generate any revenue and its maintenance has continued to be a problem. The issue would be sorted out soon, he added.

Since there is very little lighting and patrolling of the area, some people have been using its dark and deserted stretches as their watering hole. Empty liquor bottles were spotted on the sides of the walkway.

The problem has come to the notice of the GCDA, which would seek help from the police to keep an eye on the place during night, said Mr. Venugopal.

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