KOCHI: The very face of Kochi is changing, thanks to more infrastructure projects that are on the pipeline. The projected development graph of Kochi for the next few years with ambitious projects like Kochi Metro Rail expected to be commissioned, is highly positive.
However, the formation of Metropolitan Development Authority for attaining metro city status to Kochi is still a distant dream. The Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) had submitted a proposal for formation of a Metropolitan Regional Development Authority before the State Government in 2012.
As per the GCDA proposal, the Kochi city limits will be widened further to a Greater Kochi urban agglomeration area covering 4,600 sqkm. The region that will come under Kochi Metropolis includes the entire Ernakulam district, Chalakkudy, Kodungalloor and Vaikkom.
But, the then Chief Town Planing Officer removed Kothamangalam, Perumbavoor, Vaikom and Thodupuzha from the proposal as they are part of the agriculture belt. He also recommended including Cherthala in the proposal and the total area was revised to 3,400 sqkm.
According to former GCDA chairman N Venugopal, as the expansion require the inclusion of areas from neighbouring districts like Alappuzha, Thrissur and Idukki, the government need to formulate an Act. “Only then can the idea be implemented,” he added. Recently, K V Thomas MP also put forth the idea expanding Kochi Corporation’s geographical limits by adding Tripunithura, Marad, Thrikkakara, Kalamassery, Eloor, Aluva and Perumbavoor into its limits.
He said that by expanding the limits, the city can dream of the implementation of big and capital intensive infrastructure development projects. Through redefining the boundary, all the neighbouring areas will also get the benefit of the metropolitan City “For that, all the nearby areas should become part of ‘Greater Kochi’,” he said.
Change in urban transport
Urban Transport of Kochi is one sector which will witness drastic change in the coming years. It is not because of the commissioning of Metro Rail, but also the formation of UMTA (Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority). The Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), which will be instrumental in the formation of UMTA, had already formulated a plan which prioritize actions based on the future transport requirements. The major aim is to formulate a multi-modal urban transport policy. The UMTA Will act as the umbrella body which coordinates various institutions involved which handle transport services within the Greater Kochi.
It will also control the urban transport policy in the years to come in Kochi and will manage the network of integrated public transport at the time of commissioning the Metro.
French agency Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) had already extended its support to KMRL for formulating an effective Unified Metropolitan Transport system for the city of Kochi.
“The action plan for the Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority can be implemented effectively only if the city limits are extended. It is highly beneficial to the neighbouring municipalities and panchayats too. With the Metro Rail expected to be extended to suburbs in the next phases, then it is high time thinking about expanding the limits of the City. We should think of a Greater Kochi from now on,” according to Town Planning experts.