KOCHI: The persisting waste problem at the Fort Kochi beach might become a thing of the past if India’s first-ever Coastal Public Space Challenge churns out a fool-proof solution. The initiative is being undertaken by WRI India (an organisation which fosters equitable development), in collaboration with the Kochi Corporation, as part of WRI’s Cities4forests global initiative. But what is the Coastal Public Space Challenge? According to Aparna Vijayakumar, senior project associate, the Coastal Public Space Challenge seeks innovative technological solutions that will prevent the drifting of suspended solid waste and water hyacinth on to Mahatma Gandhi Beach in Fort Kochi.
“Fort Kochi has a perpetual problem with debris on the shore. The Vembanad Lake, which carries a significant load of suspended solid wastes including plastics, fishing nets, and thermocol besides invasive water hyacinths, empties into the Arabian Sea near Mahatma Gandhi beach in Fort Kochi in a curving pattern,” she said. Due to local water flow, wave and wind pattern, the above-mentioned suspended solid wastes drift back to these beaches, she added. “As a result, these beaches have become inaccessible and unusable for public due to solid waste pollution and safety hazards. Also giving rise to incidence of snake sightings along the beachfront,” Aparna said.
According to Priya Narayanan, manager, Urban Forestry, WRI, the challenge involves coming up with a solution to rid and prevent piling up of solid waste along a 200m stretch of the beach. “As of now, there are no plans to expand the project to include other stretches,” she said. Meanwhile, Fort Kochi will see more such initiatives, which aim at making public space usable and accessible in future.
The objectives of the challenge are to design and develop a technological solution having low operation and maintenance cost (OPEX). The implementation of the winning solution at a limited stretch of the beach will showcase the effectiveness of such projects as pilot proof of the concept. With an award worth `10,00,000, the winning entry will get the opportunity to exhibit its solutions in the coastal environment of Fort Kochi. If the pilot implementation proves successful, in keeping the limited beach area clear of suspended solid waste and water hyacinths, there is a high potential for scaling up, as well as replication, by Kochi Corporation. Additionally, WRI India will provide global visibility to the winning solution through its communication and social media network. The last date for application is March 10, 2020.
In a nutshell
Helmed by WRI India in collaboration with Kochi Corporation, the initiative seeks innovative technological solutions that will prevent the drifting of suspended solid waste into the sea