Attempt to remove encroachers with police help had failed
Encroachers and fish sellers who have put up shacks all along the Fort Kochi beach side seem to be hampering the tourism appeal of the place. The encroachers have set up stalls that sell garments, puppets, hats, chains and bangles all the way from St. Francis Church to a little further of the Fort Kochi bus stand.
With the onset of the tourism season, fish sellers have descended to the beach front by the dozen. The stalls set up by them pose a threat to hygiene since fish waste is often discarded on the beach.
This and the water hyacinth deposited along the coast make the job tough for the 22 women from Kudumbasree and Stree Shakti Units deployed to clean the beach and its precincts.
A Kerala Tourism official said that though a team led by the RDO attempted to remove encroachers from the area two months ago with police help, they had to withdraw following political pressure.
The Fort Kochi Heritage Society had relocated vendors and others who ran eateries on the Vasco Da Gama Square to the 34 food kiosks opened by Kerala Tourism. “The fish vendors can be similarly shifted to a centralised fish market a little away from the beach. Vendors must be removed from near the bus stand and Kamalakadavu boat jetty too so that tourists can use the neatly-paved footpaths,” an official said.
Apart from construction debris and tree stumps, haphazardly-parked vehicles prevent tourists from using the footpaths. Two lorries seized by the police many years ago are parked at the entrance to the beach, with layers of dust and bird droppings over them.
Though the approach roads from Thopumpady to Fort Kochi were resurfaced, roads in the Fort Kochi heritage zone are in bad shape. This turns away tourists, most of whom prefer to walk through the streets lined with buildings constructed in European style. The Corporation of Cochin-owned park near the beach too is in bad condition for want of proper upkeep.
The heritage zone and many parts of the beach plunge into darkness at night as fused bulbs on most street lights have not been replaced. A long-pending demand to extend SWTD boats to Kamalakadavu for the benefit of hundreds of passengers and tourists too remains unfulfilled.