The short term solutions must include redesigning and revamping of existing infrastructure in the city.
Converting ‘Roads’ into ‘Streets’
The ‘roads’ that are primarily used for vehicular traffic at present , must be redesigned and revamped, incorporating well-designed pedestrian walk-ways, street furniture, street lamps and signages, to give them the ‘character’ of the ‘streets’. This will evoke the feeling of a ‘sense of place’ in the mind of the users.
Such type of revamping of streets, is presently going on in Bangalore.
Creating city squares, public spaces
While revamping the streets, features such as city squares and landscaped plazas, at the street sides and junctions, for public use, must also be created.
The city’s other infrastructure, that comprises of water supply, sewage, power and communication lines, will have to be redesigned and installed underground.
Kochi, being a water front city, has to have a proper rain water management system. This will help in avoiding natural catastrophes like the massive flood that the city of Chennai witnessed recently. Also, the much needed, well- planned and engineered, solid waste management system, has to be put in place.
Maintenance, of such a revamped Kochi, will be of paramount importance.The streets must be vacuum-cleaned ( as it is being done presently in the city of Shanghai and even certain parts of Bangalore ) and walk-
ways washed ( as it is currently being done in many European cities ), daily, using trucks designed for such purposes.
All the measures outlined above are feasible and implementable, within the time frame of around ten years. However, to make such programmes happen, a long-term solution is required.
The short-term solutions mentioned above can not be a substitute for, the much needed, long-term solutions.
The presently envisaged move by the authorities, to bring small and big towns like Mala, Kodungallur, Angamali, Perumbavoor, Piravom, Kolenchery, Thalayolaparrambu, Vaikom and Cherthala, within the Kochi city limits, by expanding its boundaries, will only help in adding more problems, rather than solving them. Instead of going ahead with such a move, authorities must consider planning ‘new multi-centric cities’, adjoining Kochi.
Desirable urban features
Future Kochi should, ideally, have buildings and out-door spaces that respect the macro, micro climatic and local terrain conditions. Their plans should also take into consideration, the cultural sensibilities that are very unique to Kochi, Kerala and India.
If cities are designed based on the right urban planning principles and further complemented with appropriately designed buildings, truly smart cities will be the natural outcome of such design processes.
Kochi is no exception to this axiomatic rule !