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Food courts in Fort Kochi to be handed over to selected vendors

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HISTORICAL SITE: Some of the food courts in the Fort Kochi heritage zone.
HISTORICAL SITE: Some of the food courts in the Fort Kochi heritage zone.

Staff Reporter

Move to bring back the charm to the heritage area

KOCHI: The Tourism Department and the Fort Kochi Heritage Society have embarked on an initiative to bring back the lost charm to Fort Kochi, which is among the oldest European settlements in the country.

The society’s meeting held recently decided to hand over possession of the 32 food courts inaugurated four years ago, to vendors selected from among those who were evicted from the Vasco da Gama Square. Steps are also being taken to help the operators of Chinese fishing nets, since many of the nets have been pulled down owing to dwindling catch and the sea eating away a good portion of the beach.

The vendors eligible to occupy the courts would be chosen from a list of 56 vendors submitted by the then RDO and the police, in 2006. A sub-committee led by the Mattancherry MLA has been asked to make a list of eligible vendors by the month’s end. A draw of lots will be carried out if the list is not ready.

District Collector M. Beena, who is also the chairperson of the society, said that priority will be given to 11 applicants who operated fast-food joints in the locality. Many of these joints operated under the popular ‘You buy, we cook’ label. “The vendors would be asked to abide by a set of conditions, a prominent one being the need to ensure hygiene.

The other stalls will be given to those who sold handicrafts, garments etc. The stalls will be given for a fixed price, since auctioning them would mean that the richer vendors would be at an advantage.” She added that there is a proposal to build a ‘pulimuttu’ alongside the beach, to prevent beach erosion.

This would also help the operators of Chinese nets, who add to the old-age charm of the tourist locale. An organisation has come forward to ensure better working conditions for them. Kerala Travel Centre, a U.K.-based firm, has come forward to sponsor five sweepers to ensure the beach’s cleanliness.

With a huge inflow of foreign tourists and mediapersons expected in connection with the Kochi stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race in early December, buildings in the heritage zone have been asked to conform to specifications on painting.

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