Kochi's Jew Street getting nowhere

Life seems to be dealing blow after blow to the traders at Mattanchery’s famous Jew Street.

Published: 13th August 2021 07:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th August 2021 07:17 AM   |  A+A-

Scenes from the Jew Street in Kochi | Express

Express News Service

KOCHI: Traders in Mattanchery are struggling to eke a living since 2020 as the pandemic nearly shut down the tourism industry. Now, even as tourism spots are opening up, those at Jew Street, one of the oldest tourism centres in the city, bears a forlorn look with the rejuvenation project dragging on with no completion in sight

Life seems to be dealing blow after blow to the traders at Mattanchery’s famous Jew Street. Ever since the Covid pandemic brought the tourism industry to a screeching halt last year, traders have been finding it difficult to eke out a living. But now, even as the tourism scene in Kochi prepares for a revival, the rejuvenation project for the Jew Street — one of the oldest tourism centres in the city — drags on with no completion in sight. 

The traders here, a majority of whom Kashmiris are disappointed with the lag in the work, which was undertaken as part of the Smart City project.“The authorities concerned had ample time to finish the project. But six months since initiation, they haven’t even begun the work,” said Junaid Sulaiman, a handicraft trader at Jew Street and secretary of Kerala Handicraft Welfare Association. According to him, traders are worried that the contractors are waiting for tourists to arrive to kick off the project. 

“The traders here have not been feeling lucky for a while. So, when the state government and even the district tourism department announced the revival of the tourism industry, we were getting hopeful of breaking the circle of despair. But now we fear that all will be in vain,” he added.The Kashmiri traders, who left for their homes after their businesses came to a halt in the wake of the lockdown, are preparing to come back hoping for the best, said Junaid. But the present situation is despairing, he said.

Sunny K Malayil, another trader, pointed out that even the construction of the new drainages and the laying of paving stones remain halfway through. “The work doesn’t seem to move forward. All we get to see here are patches of paved and unpaved roads in the area. The same is the case with drains and electric posts. The drains and the slabs to cover them are all unfinished. Imagine how it will look to the tourists visiting. They will give the area a big detour,” he said, adding the plan to replace the old electric poles too have not materialised. 

“They brought in the new poles four months ago, but they are yet to be installed. We fear they will begin replacing them during tourism season. This will cause power disruptions and, in turn, affect our sales,” said an aggrieved Sunny. The trader further pointed out that no steps have been taken to vaccinate those involved in the tourism sector in Mattanchery. “The state government and the Kochi Corporation had announced that those in the tourism industry will be vaccinated on a priority basis. But the traders here, including the Kashmiris, are yet to be vaccinated. This is the city’s tourism hub, yet it is the most neglected,” said Sunny.

Meanwhile, the contractor who is responsible for laying the paving and cobblestones said the work would be carried out without causing any inconvenience to the traders. “The laying of paving stones is tricky. We have been asked to ensure that the area’s rustic look is maintained. So we have to get stones that match the requirement,” said the contractor, as per whom the road paving work can also be carried out only after a survey of the elevation is done. 

“A survey has been carried out and it has been submitted to the Cochin Smart Mission Ltd. The elevation varies in every street. If we carry out the cutting and paving work without analysing the height, the shop owners will find their establishment below the road line,” said the contractor, adding this would lead to flooding during the rainy season. 

“The same goes for the road towards the synagogue. If we go ahead with the paving, one of the steps at the entrance of the synagogue will disappear. This will apparently contradict the architectural style of the Jews, as a synagogue is supposed to have three steps at the entrance,” he said.“We have to take care of all these matters while planning the renovation,” said the contractor, adding that the construction, however, will be carried out such that the working of the shops is not hindered.

Troubles galore
Traders say no steps have been taken to vaccinate those involved in the tourism industry in Mattanchery

Contractor who is responsible for laying the paving and cobblestones said works will be carried out without causing any inconvenience to the traders

The heritage look of the area shoulb be maintained while doing renovation works

According to contractor, the road paving work can be carried out only after a survey of the elevation is done 

The same goes for the road towards the synagogue



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