KOCHI: At a time when eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle becomes a mantra, Kochi seems to be unaware of this. While walking and use of bicycles are being promoted all over the world, Kochiites won’t be able to make the switch anytime soon due to the lack of pedestrian-friendly facilities. Many of the areas in the city, including the Kaloor-Kadavanthara stretch, Banerjee Road, MG Road, Thevara, Palarivattom and Menaka, lack footpaths and walkways, making commuting difficult for pedestrians.
A walk without a ‘way’
To encourage people to adopt walking as part of their lifestyle, tghe Cochin Orthopedic Society had organised ‘The Great Pedestrian March’ last week. Around 2,000 people, including students and elders, took part in the march which began from the Ernakulathappan Ground to Marine Drive. “There were wheelchair-bound elders and blind people who struggled their ways through damaged slabs and walkway,” said Dr R Venugopal, secretary, Cochin Orthopedic Society.
He added that the society will submit a petition in the coming days by collecting the signatures from around one lakh people from different parts of the city.
“We will also take the initiative of preparing a project to construct proper footpaths in the city, which will be submitted to the state government. We are not just focusing on a particular stretch but the entire city must be made pedestrian friendly,” he said. Meanwhile, the Kochi Corporation is proceeding with the construction of damaged walkways under the Amruth Project.
“The work of the footpaths are going on smoothly under the project. In several areas deep dredging of the canals are required,” said Soumini Jain, Mayor, Kochi Corporation.
Though footpaths are constructed for pedestrians, in Kochi they are converted to parking lots. Ask the residents of Thevara about this, they will explain how the narrow stretch doubles up as parking space.
“The entire stretch of Thevara does not have any footpath. Add to that the illegal parking of the vehicles on roadsides. An accident can occur anytime with buses recklessly taking to the roads,” says Suji Pathur, a resident of Thevara.
The ongoing construction of the PVS culvert stretch at Kaloor (150 mts) by the Public Works Department (PWD) is without any footpaths. “The current project by the PWD has not included any footpath. We have asked for a walkway and the officials said they will construct a walkway after the completion of the bridge,” said M G Aristotle, councillor from Kaloor South.
He added that the Kochi Metro is progressing with its work through the Kaloor, Deshabhimani stretch.
Street vendors: Most of the footpaths in Broadway, Jew Street and the areas near Ernakulam Market are encroached by street vendors. “The footpaths in these busy spots are occupied by street vendors. We are forced to walk through the main roads amidst the heavy traffic,” said Anjali Krishna, a city resident.