Though there are umpteen development proposals for tourism and infrastructure in the city, islands in the city are still the neglected lot.
Many of the islands lack even the basic facilities, including roads that connect them to the mainland.
And, the available water transport facilities have only turned for the worse over the years.
“We used to have 22 boats for our island about a decade back, now it is just one,” says Vasumathi Dasan, a resident of Thanthonni Thuruth, a recluse island.
“Earlier, there were boat service every few minutes but now people belonging to the island have to wait for hours to get to their homes. In case of an emergency, there is nothing that can be done but row him through the waters on a canoe.
And, if there is a storm then all we can do is perish. This is despite the fact that the island stands close to the city separated only by a small stretch of backwater,” says Vasumathi.
The main factors responsible for the decline in the number of boat operations to the little islands is the better road connectivity available to the larger islands.
When the larger islands switched to road transportation, the population taking to the boat services declined and it was no longer viable for private operators to carry on the services.
Of the several projects that were mooted to augment the water transportation, only one that materialised was the Goshree Island Development Authority’s project to have a boat terminal that conduct services to these islands for tourists and local people.
“We have identified over 20 routes. But in the initial phase the circular operations will be restricted to the Vypeen-Fort Kochi-Ernakulam circular route. Based on its feasibility we will extend it further.”, said senior officials with the GIDA.
But while the economic feasibility of the water transport to these islands is debatable, experts say that when compared to major infrastructure projects mooted for the city, water transport projects costs nothing.
“The complete modernisation of water transportation facilities to these islands can be done with an amount of `50 crore.
At a time when we are seeing projects like the Kochi Metro Rail that costs over 5,000 crore, this is nothing.
Besides project like this will put the 40 or so unexplored pristine islands and backwaters on the tourism map, that too without any of the ecological damage that road transportation poses.
Despite this many of these islands do not even have a roof on their boat jetties,” said Corpration Town Planning Committee chairman K J Sohan.