KOCHI: Of late, there is something different about the Fort Kochi beach. On a very liberal scale, it looks cleaner than how it was a month ago, when a flurry of reports decried the filth and stench besmirching the historic beach.
On one side of the beach, a couple of earth movers work their way up, smoothing the depressions on the sand bed, which had trapped sea water during tidal surges and turned into an ugly body of rotting slush.
On another side, plastic and other non-biodegradable wastes were being culled out from garbage piles and were eventually being scooped away for disposal.
However, the relatively cleaner look of the beach offers to hold no lasting promise. Going by the reactions from the residents here, the cleanliness drive that started four days ago, is just another annual exercise by the Kochi Corporation, aimed apparently at no sustainable benefits.
“It is meant more to appease the national and foreign media, to which Fort Kochi is of much interest now due to the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale and the upcoming Cochin New Year Carnival,” said Jaleel Zalahudheen, a Fort Kochi resident.
According to the people here, the corporation carries out a drive every December to clean up the beach ahead of the New Year carnival. But once that is over, the beach returns back to its old, filthy state within weeks.
“We have been witnessing this (the clean-up exercise) every year. For a few weeks the beach stays clean, but then it turns filthy again,” said Ramshad Basheer, another resident.
To Peter Reimar, an Austrian who has been living in Fort Kochi for the past three weeks, the clean up has made no apparent difference to the beach in terms of cleanliness.
“There is filth everywhere here, but then I think that is something you see everywhere in India ... Fort Kochi is relatively cleaner than other cities in India, but it is not very hygienic,” he said.
What Fort Kochi residents like Jaleel and Ramshad, and foreigners like Reimar, demand is a permanent solution to the problem of accumulation of garbage on the beach.
Meanwhile, town planning chairperson K J Sohan said a permanent set up to keep the beach tidy is a costly affair and not practically possibly under the current financial circumstances of the corporation.