Kochi Corporation ties up with UK varsity to arrange housing for migrants

The Kochi Corporation, in association with the University of Reading, UK, has initiated a housing project for the city’s migrant population. 

Published: 11th September 2021 03:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th September 2021 03:40 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: The Kochi Corporation, in association with the University of Reading, UK, has initiated a housing project for the city’s migrant population.  A draft policy that includes a strategic action plan towards ensuring adequate and affordable rentals for migrant workers and pavement dwellers was submitted to the mayor recently. 

The draft was prepared by Angelique Chettiparamb, professor of urban planning and governance at the University of Reading.  She was assisted by the Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development, and the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID), Perumbavoor.

The team conducted case studies, discussions and consultations through organised events before preparing the draft, said Angelique.  Primary fact-finding and quick-reconnaissance fieldwork were done in March and April at three locations in the corporation – two settlements and an area frequented by pavement dwellers.

The fieldwork showed sizeable presence of pavement dwellers in Kochi before the pandemic. All of them are reportedly migrants. While most of them work in unorganised sectors, some are vagabonds. The study at the two settlements showed that the migrant population is relatively stable in Kochi. 

Most migrants are couples whose children stay back in their native states. The couples occupy small rental spaces in the city or outskirts. “We found that settlements have public toilet facilities accessible to migrants. They take water from public taps and solid waste management systems are also in place.

A certain degree of crowding is an issue in some places along with lack of building upkeep, including unrepaired leaking structures, lack of sanitation and the threat of waterlogging,” said Angelique. 
Mayor M Anilkumar said the council hopes to implement the project as soon as it gets necessary approval from all stakeholders.

Suggestions by experts

The draft has four suggestions for implementation and recommends action based on a comprehensive evaluation of all four strands:

1. Focus on facilitating private sector involvement in rental housing by exploiting the space created by the Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) scheme of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA). It also borrows lessons from the rental housing programme of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). 

2. Focus on settlement-level strategy using slum up-gradation and regulation as the main approach. Four areas for intervention are highlighted: sanitation, flooding, overcrowding and maintenance. In the context of Kochi, sanitation and flooding are main hurdles due to high groundwater levels. Tidal actions in canals and a poor waste management is also an issue.

3. Focus on  community-level approach by constituting a community land trust (CLT) of migrant workers. If implemented, this would be the first CLT focusing on migrants in the country, or probably the whole world.

4. Focus on communication between landlords,  tenants and the corporation. The free Bandhu app has been recommended as a solution. The company will organise surveys and upload the details to the app. Migrant workers can use this to compare facilities. 


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