Kochi

Walkways to woo back visitors

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Cochin Port Trust and GCDA are coming up with multi-crore projects to renovate the city’s major walkways

Having realised that families, youngsters and others are shunning the city’s ill-maintained walkways and are instead thronging glitzy shopping malls and eateries, agencies in charge of their upkeep have decided to make amends, albeit belatedly.

The Cochin Port Trust is giving finishing touches to a two-km-long walkway along the waterfront, from Mattancherry BOT Bridge Junction to the junction where Kannanghat Bridge takes off from Alexander Parambithara Road. “The ₹13-crore walkway, wholly funded by the Union Tourism Ministry, will be commissioned in March. It will be integrated with the walkway which was built earlier on the waterfront,” said M. Beena, Chairperson of Cochin Port Trust.

It will be a new eco-friendly concept, having plenty of space to walk and unwind. A floating restaurant and eateries serving ethnic and exotic cuisines too have been planned. Discussions are on with hospitality stakeholders and others for operating the eateries and maintaining the premises. Another option is to entrust the upkeep to a dedicated contractor, as is being done in public spaces like Durbar Hall Ground, she said.

Aimed at making optimal use of the proximity with the backwaters, the port trust has envisaged water sports in the 2-km promenade. Open-air events too can be staged on the walkway. There will also be space for recreational events and parking. The aim is to usher in responsible hospitality and site management, port sources said.

Marine Drive renovation

In the meantime, Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) has readied a ₹7-crore project to renovate the Marine Drive waterfront, from the first Goshree Bridge to Hotel Taj Gateway. This was done after the agency received much flak for shabby upkeep of the stretch.

“Uneven tiles at many places on the walkway will be levelled or replaced. Similarly, lights, seats and signboards will be installed wherever required. Tree saplings will be planted, while landscaping will be done afresh,” said V. Salim, GCDA Chairman.

The tender for the work has been awarded and the work will begin within two weeks. The rest of the walkway, including the Royal Musical Walkway, will be renovated in the second phase.

A walk through the GCDA’s newly-built walkway beside the High Court showed that the stretch is ill-kept, what with overgrowth of weeds and invasive shrubs which have devoured flowering plants. Only a dozen dating pairs, a few youngsters and three women deputed to clean the corridor were present there, as families have begun shunning the locale.

The operator of tourist boat in the area, Joseph, spoke of how Marine Drive has become a haven for drug addicts, due to inadequate lighting and overgrowth of weeds. “The GCDA must post security guards and more workers for the upkeep of the stretch, while the police must step up patrolling. CCTVs too must be installed at vantage points. Many people trip and fall, since many tiles on the walkway are undulating,” he said.

Visitors also complained of lack of pay and use toilets in the entire stretch of the old and new walkways.

The sole walkway in the city which has been maintained rather well is Queen’s Walkway on the Goshree Bridge-Chatiath Road. It was built using the then MLA Hibi Eden’s development fund.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 11:23:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/walkways-to-woo-back-visitors/article30472622.ece

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