KOCHI: Overlooked by everyone, the Jewish cemetery in the middle of the city has been neglected for many years. One of the few remnants of the city’s historic ties with the Jewish community, the cemetery has been invaded by creepers, shrubs and reptiles.
The authorities are least concerned about preserving the one-acre plot and its 47 tombs and placing it on Kochi’s tourism map.
The 200-year-old cemetery on Market Road has become a nightmare to nearby shops and St Teresa’s Convent Girls Higher Secondary School as it is infested with snakes. “Due to the dense foliage, the plot has become a haven for snakes. Many people used to dump waste in the cemetery. When it was cleaned 10 months ago, workers found a python. For fear of snakes, many of us are reluctant to use the bylane adjacent to the cemetery,” said Paul Marcos, a security guard of a nearby building.
The Archaeology Department’s project to develop the area with the support of former legislator Hibi Eden hasn’t materialised yet.
“We had cleared the bushes and waste materials from the cemetery and started preparatory works for the excavation. Out of 47 tombs, only six are in good condition and the rest need to be renovated without losing its heritage qualities. Without citing any reason, the Archeology Department stopped the work. I contacted the Minister concerned and the department officials several times only to end up without any results,” said Eden.
The plan was to transform the area into a tourism spot with necessary renovation work.
“Apart from paving tiles on the entire plot, it was decided to construct a pathway and watchman’s cabin. If it is added to the tourism circuit, the cemetery can generate income for the government. But the officials concerned are not at interested in the project,” said Eden.
However, Minister for Archaeology Kadannappally Ramachandran who visited the area last year has promised to look into the matter.
“I have personally visited the spot and directed the department officials to take necessary actions for its renovation. There are similar historical monuments which deserve timely refurbishment without ruining their natural identity.
I will inquire into the delay and ask the Archeology Department director to look into the matter,” he said.