Kochi development plan based on whim, errors galore

KOCHI: The appraisal report of the City Development Plan (CDP) submitted by Kochi Corporation provides a glimpse of the lackadaisical approach of the mandarins of the local self government institutions. The appraisal report has pointed out a series of mistakes that included factual errors and lack of clarity on many issues.
The appraisal makes it very clear the CDP was prepared in a haphazard manner and lacked holistic and comprehensive vision for the development of an urban habitat space. Referring to confusion regarding the definition CDP, the appraisal has raised questions on the arbitrary nature of the choices made in this regard.
The appraisal has made it clear that the CDP has failed in providing a criterion for including and excluding areas from the urban agglomeration for the purposes of preparing a CDP. The report also raised the issue of having a discussion with the local bodies excluded and the loss of grants for development of such areas under JnNURM.
Referring to the absence of a holistic approach the appraisal has mentioned that it was not clear about the nature of consultations. “It is necessary to give details of the process, stakeholder groups and individuals who were part of consultations from all the constituent parts of the CDP area, the civil society groups consulted and the dates of consultations etc,” it was pointed out.
The appraisal has also mentioned about the need for vision of city development to be “articulated through a consultative process with the stakeholders.  “But the Kochi CDP did not articulate any vision, but only discusses the objectives and scope”, it said.
Experts fret over development plans gone bust:
The City Development Plan (CDP) has got a quiet burial and those who spent quality time on it and prepared a roadmap are upset over what has happened and what is happening. According to eminent architect S Gopakumar, the Kochi Corporation made a very good start with CDP. “Experts including me were called for a series of meetings to prepare it but at a later stage they quietly buried it without informing us of any reason,” Gopakumar said.
He said that the very approach of centering the CDP on Kochi Corporation was flawed. “Now the CDP has been abandoned and the Town Planning Department is working on a Master Plan. Since they have understood some of the mistakes, they are making corrections, but in fact the local bodies have to do it as per the stipulations of an Act of Parliament,” he said.
Gopakumar said that a private agency with expertise should be given the task of preparing the Master Plan as happened in the case of Bangalore.  “People in this task should have imagination and should think of a different line of growth. In fact eastern side of Kochi has a lot of potential. The transportation network also should develop. One Kochi Metro won’t solve all the problems,” he said.
According to Dhanu Raj, chairman of Centre for Public Policy Research, a Kochi-based advocacy group,  we have been revising the plans ever since the 1980s. “Our political leadership lacks a vision while the local bodies are hamstrung because of a lot of factors. We have been changing plans according to funding patterns from state and central governments and external agencies. In fact there is no end to discussions on planning and concrete action rarely takes place. The problem is with the system. The local bodies do not have much own funds also. There needs to be clearance from the centre and state in the case of several projects,” says Dhanu Raj.
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