A chequered year for emerging metropolis

Cutline here A view of flooded Cochin International Airport on August 15, 2018. With the flood waters inundating the airport, operations have been officially suspended till Saturday noon. Photo : Thulasi Kakkat.

Cutline here A view of flooded Cochin International Airport on August 15, 2018. With the flood waters inundating the airport, operations have been officially suspended till Saturday noon. Photo : Thulasi Kakkat.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat


The year 2018 was eventful for the Kochi region, with some unsavoury developments causing public outcry, some shocking occurrences, a few notable milestones and a rare show of togetherness when nature unleashed its fury. Here’s a recap of the major happenings:

Custodial death

S.R. Sreejith, 29, from Varapuzha, died due to alleged custodial torture on April 9, three days after he was taken into police custody on mistaken identity. In his dying declaration, Sreejith said he was assaulted by two unidentified officers in civil clothes at 8.30 p.m. on April 6 and was then taken straight to the Varapuzha police station. Seven cops suspended in the case have now been reinstated into service on December 26. A Special Investigation Team led by IGP S. Sreejith is investigating the case.

Abhimanyu murder

Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, was at the centre of discussions over campus politics following the gruesome murder of Abhimanyu M, a second-year undergraduate student of Environmental Chemistry, allegedly by activists of Campus Front of India, Social Democratic Party of India and Popular Front of India following differences over wall graffiti welcoming newcomers to the campus on July 2. The murder of the tribal student led to a wave of solidarity against fascist tendencies on college campuses.

Nuns for reforms

The Vanchi Square in the heart of Kochi and close to the Kerala High Court turned into a sea of protesters of all hues in early September with a group of five nuns defying Catholic Church authorities for the first time sat in protest demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, accused of raping a nun. While the protest shook the Catholic Church in Kerala like never before, the bishop is now out on bail after being arrested.

Puthuvype protest

The public protest against the construction of the LPG terminal by the Indian Oil Corporation at Puthuvype in June turned out to be the bloodiest in the district after police caned the protesters. The construction of the plant is yet to resume on the island.

NGT cracks whip

The Kochi Corporation earned the wrath of the National Green Tribunal for the tardy management of the solid waste management unit at Brahmapuram. The delay in setting up the leachate treatment plant at Brahmapuram irked the tribunal, which imposed a hefty fine of₹1 crore on the Corporation.

The local body got the order stayed by moving the Kerala High Court.

Ban on flex

The proactive judicial orders from the Kerala High Court saw the local bodies across the State acting against the illegal display of flex bards and other advertisement materials. In Kochi too, the flex boards cause environmental hazards besides defacing the cityscape.

Ro-ro ahoy

After much dilly-dallying and delay, the Roll-On Roll-Off service of the Kochi Corporation began its voyage in the Kochi backwaters. The Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation, which was assigned the responsibility of operating the vessels, is yet to streamline the service. Although two vessels have been introduced between Fort Kochi and Vypeen, the number of trips is inadequate to meet the demand from commuters and tourists.

Tinsel world in turmoil

The Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes reinstated actor Dileep, who was expelled after his alleged involvement in the sexual assault and kidnapping of a Malayalam actor in February 2017. Four members of the Women in Cinema Collective resigned from from AMMA on June 26, 2018 in protest against the decision to reinstate Mr. Dileep, who is out on bail. Actor Mohanlal, president AMMA, says on July 8 that Mr. Dileep will remain outside the organisation till his innocence in the case is proved. Mr. Dileep says on October 22 that he quit on his own.

Arrested contagions

A major triumph in 2018 was the control of diseases post-floods.

Volunteers from the private sector had joined government efforts to create a new Kerala model. The official numbers of new and emerging diseases reported in the district remained on the lower side despite great floods. One case of Kala Azar reported in the district in November is now cured.

Resilient KWA

The Kerala Water Authority was resilient in restoration works post-floods.

Floods had cut off the water supply in the district completely as all the treatment plants, small and big, situated on the banks of the Periyar were submerged.

The Army and the Navy helped Kerala Water Authority to clean up the debris at the major plants and get them back to functioning within a few days after the flood water receded.

CIAL flies again

The Cochin International Airport shut down for 15 days in August after flood waters brought all operations to a standstill.

The airport operations area went under water. Equipment were damaged. The shutdown resulted in the Naval Airport being opened for civilian domestic flight operations after a gap of nearly two decades.

Clean city

A study by the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, had ranked Kochi as the fifth cleanest among the 14 Indian cities. The Centre had assessed the select cities for air pollution and travel-related pollution load caused by urban transport.

Krithi festival

Book lovers in Kochi never had it so good. The book festival and celebration of reading through the first Krithi festival in March saw a total of over seven lakh visitors. Books worth ₹17 crore were sold.

Children were gifted books worth ₹70 lakh with the help of generous souls. The festival will make its appearance in February 2019 and promises to be even better, said the organisers.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 4:27:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/a-chequered-year-for-emerging-metropolis/article25868108.ece

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