A new master plan for Kochi city, thought about 10 years ago, is only now beginning to take shape. But there are doubts if the plan will be able to deliver the goods. An important question is how the plan is supposed to help a city saddled with congested roads and haphazard growth.

“The growth of the city has been unimaginable,” says K.J. Sohan, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Development of the City Corporation. Had the plan taken shape 10 years ago, public transport and housing would have got an impetus.

Water-supply is a major problem facing the city now, he says. Water sources should be public property. A good portion of the waterfront areas in Kochi is in the hands of private developers, he says.

The councillor says the topography of the city will help evolve a wonderful waterway, which, if integrated with the road and rail transport systems, will decongest the roads.

Mr. Sohan speaks of transit-oriented development in his report on the “Transport system for the people of Kochi.” The transport corridors should back high-density growth in a city area. There should be a surcharge on such type of growth to meet the transport costs, he says.

There is no city in the country that has such a network of waterbodies as Kochi does.

These link the suburbs to the city, Mr. Sohan says. In fact, Kochi boasts three national waterways, which, however, remain unutilised for public transport. The National Waterways Authority of India promotes only cargo transport through these waterways, he says. Boats are so obsolete and the water-transport infrastructure so crude that people find road transport much safer and faster.

He says the master plan, for projected growth up to 2025, can give a direction to the city's development, especially with focus on transport mechanisms and infrastructure.