The second meeting of ‘Paripaakam’ was held at CPPR’s Elamkulam office recently. It was attended by Prof K C Abraham, Adv Sunil Kumar (Former Town Planning Committee Chairperson), K J Sohan (Chairman, Town Planning Standing Committee, Kochi Corporation), forum members, and CPPR staff.

‘Paripaakam’ is a Senior Citizen’s Action Forum, which gives the elderly in Kochi the opportunity to help in research; a platform where they use their knowledge and expertise for the city’s development.

Prof K C Abraham welcomed the gathering and highlighted the agenda and objective plan of action to be followed by the forum. In his introductory speech, he cautioned against an attitude of cynicism toward developmental programmes and called on the participants to be aware of the problems of corruption and inertia rampant in the society.

CPPR Chairman D Dhanuraj drew attention to the need for a change in approach towards solutions to urban problems. A move towards practicality and practicability should be the focal point in solving problems, he said.

A main point of discussion was the road transport network of Kochi. The urgent need to develop a roadway parallel to the arterial Sahodaran Ayyappan Road was stressed on, along with widening of the Thykoodam-Kadavanthra-Thevara Road network, reworking and improving the width and quality of the Thamanam-Pullepady Road. There also were discussions on the deplorable condition of the Kumaran Asan Road, unlawful acquisition of housing in the name of road expansion and the following impasse in policy, unnecessary and fatal building of medians over narrow roads, rebuilding the major road outside Gokulam Park Hotel, widening of the Lissy Junction Road, need for separate bus ways, and urgent widening of the South and North Railway over-bridges. It was also suggested that medians be built over all roads having sufficient width, or provisions for a line traffic system be made.

Advocate Sunil Kumar, however, pointed out that while implementing projects, one cannot consider only central Kochi city, but should take into consideration the problem of urban agglomeration and the need to integrate the conflicting interests of municipalities and other suburban areas. “There is the need to refurbish techniques in urban planning, particularly in road building, on the lines of developed countries and as per benchmarks set by international urban design institutes,” he stressed.

On the quality of roads, it was unanimously stressed that there should be a consistency in road tarring, as well as maintenance. K J Sohan asked the participants to understand the financial condition of the Corporation, stressing on the need to increase its revenue.

Traffic congestion in the city was another point of discussion, with the members stressing on the fact that public transport was not developed. Seeking better route connectivity, they rued that people have to travel in lorries to reach the city from Island areas, including Vypin. It was mentioned that boats with well-developed boat stations were essential to facilitate water transport.