Prime tourist attractions at Fort Kochi remain in ruins

Complaints are rife that the Kerala Tourism is doing little for the upkeep of the iconic Chinese fishing nets near the Fort Kochi beachfront.

Complaints are rife that the Kerala Tourism is doing little for the upkeep of the iconic Chinese fishing nets near the Fort Kochi beachfront.

Gatekeepers of popular tourist attractions in Fort Kochi, which were crying for upkeep, are a worried lot with little being done to improve the state of affairs.

Nowhere is it more evident than along the beachfront in Fort Kochi. Little has been done to renovate the iconic Chinese fishing nets, and a considerable stretch of the walkway along the beachfront, which was washed away during the past couple of years, remains in ruins.

“Tourism and other stakeholders concerned do not seem to be worried, despite the number of Chinese nets dwindling from a total of 23 two decades ago to the present seven due to their increasing operating cost and sea erosion. The assurance by Kerala Tourism and others to help renovate the nets under a ₹1.5-crore project remains on paper, over five years since the project was set in motion,” said Kunjappan C.A., who began operating the nets in 1965 and now owns one such net.

Many of the existing nets, which used to be pulled by six people, are losing their traditional charm since the fishermen have been forced to install a motor to operate them mechanically. The teak logs that supported their cantilever frame were replaced with iron pipes during the past decade due to the difficulty and expense of procuring teak. “The nets may fast fall into oblivion, since tourists, who often join in pulling the nets, are not at all impressed by their mechanisation,” said Mr. Kunjappan.

Expressing their helplessness, Kerala Tourism sources said the project would have kicked off, but for the Forest Department forwarding its file to the State government seeking permission.

The reconstruction of the damaged portions of the adjacent beach walkway too is in limbo, for what tourism stakeholders say is inadequate interest being shown by the departments concerned.

“The walkway could have been restored but for the Irrigation Department and experts from IIT-Madras being on different pages on the mode of checking sea erosion which ate up much of the beach, and subsequently the walkway. The Irrigation Department prefers more or less a conventional sea wall, while the IIT recommended an economical but innovative sea wall. The walkway can be rebuilt only after the sea wall is readied,” said tourism sources.

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 7:12:36 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/prime-tourist-attractions-at-fort-kochi-remain-in-ruins/article38320350.ece