KOCHI: The beautiful view of Chinese nets against the twilight sky is something unique to Fort Kochi Kerala. The tourist destination is famous internationally for its Dutch and Portuguese style colonial architecture, the Chinese fishing nets and the open sea view. However, Kochi might lose all that in an instant with the construction of the Water Boat Jetty in Fort Kochi, says architects and members of The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
The proposed building of around 20,000 sq. ft is being constructed between the remaining Chinese nets at the sea mouth where the Vembanad lake joins the Arabian Sea. “There are only seven remaining Chinese nets in the area. After three nets there is a gap between the remaining four ones. That is where the two-story building is coming up. It will destroy the aesthetic and architectural value of the place,” said Biley Menon, co-convenor of the INTACH Kochi chapter. To construct the jetty, KMRL previously demolished three heritage buildings.
“The three historical buildings — the first port office, the gear shed and the coal shed — were demolished without the permission of the Art and Heritage Commission. To demolish such important historical buildings illegally by the government itself sends a wrong message to the public,” says Sohan K J, Kerala state convenor of INTACH.
“It is illegal to construct the building without the permission of the commission. Moreover, it destroys the beauty of the historical Fort Kochi.” says Velayudhan Nair, a permanent member of the Art and Heritage Commission The commission has given a stop notice to the KMRL asking to end the construction process,” he adds.
“According to the detailed town plan of Fort Kochi, the spot is described as a recreational zone. Some 100 metres away lies Kamalakadavu. That is where the dilapidated corporation jetty and tourism jetty are situated. In every way, cKamalakadavu is the best location for developing the water metro jetty,” says Biley.
Kochi and Chinese fishing nets
Kochi was selected as one of the top 10 destinations in 2020 says Biley. “And it was the photo of Chinese fishing nets that came in the National Geographic Magazine.None of us can be ignorant of the beauty of such living heritage. And to construct the building, they might remove some fishing nets from the area, according to the plan,” says Sohan. According to Biley, the nets were set up around 500 years ago.
According to Biley, the proposed jetty is coming up at a spot where the low tide and high tide makes the transit dangerous. “Due to many accidents, the fuel station for the boats was removed from the area a few years back. Now, the new jetty is coming up there. Also, the area has a huge water volume it is also a prime tourist spot,” Biley adds. “