Marine Drive curbs not a denial of public freedom: GCDA chairman
The overwhelming public opinion is that the move curbs free movement.
KOCHI: The decision of authorities to rid Marine Drive of visitors between 10pm and 5am -- reportedly in response to increased antisocial activity -- has been the butt of public criticism for the last few days.
Responding to the outpouring of anguish, GCDA chairman K Chandran Pillai stressed that the ban is temporary. “While taking the decision at the September 19 stakeholders’ meeting, involving representatives of Kochi corporation, Cochin Smart Mission Ltd (CSML), police and others, we anticipated such criticism,” said Pillai. “We are not trying to control or deny anyone’s freedom of movement. This is a temporary ban to bring things under control,” he said.
Pillai was speaking to reporters at the Government Guest House on Thursday. When asked if authorities should instead have ensured facilities such as more streetlights and enhanced police patrolling, he said the ban is a temporary move. “On October 25, a meeting will be held to review measures. We are also trying to ensure a garbage-free zone in the area. Discussions are ongoing to appoint retired servicemen, apart from cops, for patrolling,” Pillai said.
During the one-month ban, GCDA, along with police, will prepare a plan to ensure additional facilities in the area, including setting up more surveillance and eradicating illegal street vendors. “Lifting of the ban will be discussed in the review meeting scheduled for next month,” he added.
The overwhelming public opinion is that the move curbs free movement. “They are closing the place off to visitors because they failed to ensure its safety. They had two police officers guarding the stretch. Moreover, there are no streetlights or CCTV cameras. Instead of reacting in such a manner, they should have decided to ensure adequate facilities,” said Arshid P Noushad, a law graduate.