The 39 parks maintained by the Kochi Corporation will be renovated in a phased manner as part of the civic body's initiative to ensure the upkeep of parks and open spaces in the city.
The plan is to ensure the upkeep of around 20 per cent of the parks each year. The agency's budget had promised to renovate parks and attach libraries to many of them. It also spoke of how the ill-maintained Subhash Bose Park in the city and Nehru Children's Park in Fort Kochi would be renovated with private participation.
Kochi has fewer public and open spaces than other cities, since most of the land is in private hands. Still, the upkeep of many parks and open spaces owned by the corporation, GCDA and other agencies is far from satisfactory.
Referring to the urgent need to restore the Subhash Bose Park to its past glory, K.J. Sohan, the chairman of the agency's Town Planning Committee, said that it is among the few green lungs in the city which is also used for recreation. “We are not looking for heavy investment for its upkeep since it is a public space having interface with water (it abuts the backwaters). It has to be well maintained with walkways and trees that provide fresh air.”
The aim is to remodel all parks based on a theme that is in sync with each locality. Public comfort stations will be provided wherever possible, he said.
Most areas developed by the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) have parks and open spaces. An example is Panampilly Nagar, which has over half a dozen well-maintained parks. An estimate is being taken to renovate the GCDA's Changampuzha Park in Edapally. The agency's senior town planner V. Gopalakrishna Pillai said that private land developers too must emulate the GCDA. “They must ensure that their properties have standardised roads and open spaces. In cities like Chennai, approved layouts have plenty of open spaces and parks and they command a higher price than unapproved layouts.”
There are instances of real-estate developers purchasing vast areas of land, registering portions in different names to override norms that insist on ‘layout approval.' Though norms say that they must all have open spaces, some developers sell this area too to individuals for a premium.
John L. Paul
Kochi Corporation plans to ensure the upkeep of around 20% of the parks each year.