If the civic authorities and governmental departments work in a more coordinated, sensitive and creative fashion, Fort Kochi can be developed into a major tourist destination, say experts. Paulose Mathew, president, Kerala Chapter of Travel Agents Federation, said, “Fort Kochi is a classic case that testifies how a major heritage site is being systematically neglected by the civic authorities.”
“Fort Kochi is a melting pot. Tourist operations and any development work should be launched in such a way that they do not affect the traditional geography of the terrain and the existing structures should be properly maintained. The tourists who visit heritage sites are very particular about cleanliness. The beach in Fort Kochi stinks. Coordinated efforts of departments such as tourism, police, health and revenue can create wonders,” he said.
V J Hycinth, former Corporation councillor, pointed out that the civic body has consistently failed in developing the tourism potential of the historic city. “The gradual disappearance of Chinese fishing nets is an example,” he said. Traditional fish workers using Chinese fishing nets face a severe livelihood crisis and are reportedly leaving the job.
Raju P Nair, former general secretary, Tour Operators Association, said that most of the hotels in the city are expensive. “Providing medium budget accommodation is a strategic step. Properly monitored homestays can fill the gap,” he said.
The worst problems faced by Fort Kochiites are drinking water shortage and lack of proper, scientifically-managed waste management. Most of the projects initiated by the government departments and local bodies allegedly fail to address the perennial crisis. “Many medical reports have established that water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and typhoid are a major threat to people which can lead to a crisis,” said K M Ashraff, a public health activist and leader of Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishath which conducts health surveys.
Image: Marcus J Roberts