Category Archives: Publications

Kochi City Biodiversity Index

 

The City Biodiversity Index and Illustrated Natural Asset Map of Kochi Municipal Corporation, prepared under INTERACT- Bio project was released by Hon’ble Mayor Soumini Jain.

Kochi is one the very few cities in India who have developed the City Biodiversity Index. The City Biodiversity Index of Kochi has been developed with support from ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia, through the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature conservation and Nuclear Safety supported Interact- Bio Project. The project is being implemented by ICLEI South Asia in collaboration with Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development (c-hed).

Read the document on : Kochi City Biodiversity Index
 

 

EndeKochi Documentation Report

EnteKochi is an urban lab initiated by Kochi Municipal Corporation (KMC) jointly with GIZ under the Sustainable Urban Development – Smart Cities (SUD-SC) project. It is a multi-stakeholder participatory planning process that fostered creativity, innovation and public awareness on the issues of sustainable urban development.

EnteKochi Documentation Report :

Download the document

 

 

COVID – 19 India : Mobility Response Guidelines – By Urban Mass Transit Company Limited

Smt. Jaishree Jindel (Project Manager and National Coordinator, Urban Mass Transit Company Limited) and Sri. Tarun Choudhary (Project officer, Urban Mass Transit Company Limited) write on “COVID – 19 India : Mobility Response Guidelines”.

Read on : 

COVID – 19 India : Mobility Response Guidelines

Chullickal Energy Survey Report

As a part of Solar City Project by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, a pilot energy survey was done by c-hed at Chullickal ward (division 25) of Kochi Municipal Corporation. The survey was done with the help of students from Cochin college. From the findings and observations of the survey, an energy  survey report was prepared which included a solar implementation plan for the ward and an energy saving policy. The energy survey report release was done on March 9, 2020 by the Hon’ble Mayor Soumini Jain.

Energy Survey Report – http://www.c-hed.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Chullickal-energy-survey-report.pdf

 

 

IMPRESSIONS

C-hed : A True Planning Institute 

By Conor Noone, Curtain University, Perth, Australia.

Here is a small piece on the past 2 months I have spent as an intern in Kochi, India.

I first heard of the Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development (C-HED) when I began my internship with the German development organisation GIZ in December 2019. I was tasked with strengthening their team as an added human resource and to provide an external and foreign perspective. As someone who is studying urban planning in Perth, Western Australia, I was excited at the prospect of joining an institute that has been dedicated to this field for so long.

The C-HED first began their work in the year 2002, at the behest of the then Council with the consent from the Government of Kerala, who was keen for the Kochi Municipal Corporation (KMC) to take on more responsibility in increasing the liveability for residents in their city. To assist in managing the many issues that come with urban planning in modern cities C-HED was therefore formed as a semi-autonomous research and development wing of the KMC. Their duties included preserving the extensively long history of Kochi, evident through its built heritage, protection of the city’s precious and quickly disappearing natural assets and advocating for sustainable and smart procedures in urban development.

To achieve all this, the C-HED is tasked with many duties. The most important of these include; research and studies into the issues that press Kochi today, educating and creating awareness for such issues through programs and outreach, and leading the coordinated efforts in mitigating challenges that threaten the livelihood of Kochiites. For the past 18 years C-HED under the leadership of Dr. Rajan Chedambath have been dutifully carrying out this mandate, under successive mayors and governments. You have probably heard of some of the projects they have initiated. For example;

In 2002 they created a vision document and strategic plan for the KMC, outlining the prospective direction the City should take with regards to urban development. This document recommended the development of a Kochi Municipality Masterplan, to help planners and civil servants guide the development of the city in a cohesive manner with people, heritage and environment at its core. This eventually evolved into the process of preparation of the Kochi City Masterplan (2005) and the City DevelopmentPlan (2005) a pre-requisite for the approval of DPRs under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. It was also during this time that they helped host the World Mayors Conference(2005) in Kochi which included over 40 mayors from across India and around the world. This was an excellent opportunity for Kochi to understand new methods of urban development.

In 2010 the C-HED conducted a study on the impact of development on the Kochi Backwaters, a crucial natural asset of the City. It found development, especially through encroachment, has significantly detrimental impacts to the backwaters, with the report recommending various strategies to tackle these issues and mitigate further environmental degradation. A year later C-HED on behalf of the Kochi Municipal Corporation joined the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, a coalition of over 40 cities from 4 nations. The objective is to plan, implement and finance strategies for mitigating the impacts of climate change, with the assistance of the ICLEI-South Asia. In 2014 the C-HED was also responsible for Kochi’s successful application to take part in the Smart City Mission of India.

The C-HED has been responsible for sculpting many of the city’s policies regarding heritage, culture and the environment. For example, in 2010 the C-HED undertook a study of water supply for Kochi’s inhabitants. It found serious inadequacies in clean water provision and the basis of this research helped determine a water policy for the KMC, one of the first local level initiatives of its kind in India.

Over the course of many years, the C-HED has been instrumental in including Kochi within cross-cultural exchange programs whereby local governments from around the world participate with Kochi in learning about new and innovative ways for urban planning and governance. These partnerships include; Kumla (Sweden), Norfolk City (USA), Pyatigorsk (Russia), Hangzhou (China), Vilnius (Lithuania) and many more.

2016 witnessed the C-HED lead the coordination of a programme (Interact-Bio) initiated by the Central Governments National Biodiversity and Strategy Action Plan which aims to re-integrate biodiversity throughout Indian cities. The C-HED mobilised resources and stakeholders to create biodiversity mapping and local level integration plans throughout the city. Last year they began work on the Mobilise Your City project which seeks increase the connectivity between the Northern and Southern railway stations. Transport being a massive urban challenge around the world that all cities are grappling with.

Since my placement here, I have learned of these achievements and experienced the day-to-day working from within. The C-HED is an interesting initiative due to its autonomous and neutral role as an arm of government concerned with planning. Urban planning for many places around the world is dictated by governments interests at heart. However, as is the case with all democracies, urban planning is subject to many influential forces. I find the C-HED initiative fascinating because as a semi-autonomous institute, they can provide advice, coordination and mobilise resources while remaining free of political influence yet fixated on the betterment of the city and its people.

The C-HED’s role in Kochi was recently highlighted on the international stage at the 10th World Urban Forum for Urban Development. This provided an excellent platform of the C-HED to raise its profile and its methodology. As a truly innovative form of urban governance they were able to convey this institutes experiences to a powerful audience which, in the future, will ideally attract many other international agencies to come and work with people in Kochi.

The C-HED demonstrate their capabilities as a true planning institution through this background work they do. The coordination and mobilisation of stakeholders and resources is crucial for any effective planning to occur. The city and its problems are not resolved through engineering or design alone. These are important from a practical sense, but it is through the organisation of these groups of people that results on a large scale can be achieved. This is what C-HED does and this, for me, is what urban planning is truly about.

As my internship comes to an end, I would like to thank my colleagues at the C-HED for the truly welcoming experience and valuable insights they have provided me. I would also like to thank GIZ for their decision to coordinate this opportunity and for mentoring me through this journey. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Kochi for the way they accepted me with open arms despite language and cultural differences and for making my experience here one that I will soon be nostalgic about.

Is Kochi prepared to face climate change challenges ?

Dr. Rajan Chedambath (Director, Centre for Heritage , Environment and Development) shares his views on whether Kochi is prepared to face climate change challenges.

Read on :

https://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/2019/nov/13/is-kochi-prepared-to-face-climate-change-challenges-2060903.html

 

Let cities fight Carbon

Let cities fight Carbon
By Dr. Rajan Chedambath, Director, c-hed

The whole “sensible” world is thinking loudly about ways and means to mitigate climate change and its impact. One of the major causes of global warming and subsequent climate change is carbon emission resulting from fossil fuel led transportation. Transit-oriented development, E-mobility, non-motorized transport, public transport facilities, pedestrianization etc. are certain mitigation strategies that urban and rural centers in the world adopt to reduce the use of fossil fuel. It is scientifically proven that pedestrian oriented population in urban and rural centers can help minimize carbon emissions to a large extent. It is against this backdrop that countries across the globe especially their urban centers started moving towards building and creating more of pedestrian friendly landscapes and streets-capes.
‘Pedestrian first’ and ‘pedestrian friendly’ are certain terms or cliché that we very often use here in India too, especially in the urban context. But in reality, the Indian cities are not at all in harmony with the above; rather they are more of ‘motor-vehicle friendly’ giving damn about ‘carbon foot print’ or reducing emissions. However, off late, efforts are focused on giving a major makeover to this image and many cities in India are seriously working towards embracing a pedestrian friendly streets cape as part of mitigation and beautification measures.
In this context, the city of Kochi has been witnessing a real transformation and a major overhaul in pedestrianizing the city is underway, thanks to the works of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd., Cochin Smart City Mission Ltd., Kochi Municipal Corporation, Greater Cochin Development Authority and other such agencies. The ‘citizen networks’ as pressure groups also play a pivotal role in expediting the process of this transformation. The inspiring works of the Oak Ridge National University from the U.S.A. and International Centre for Local Environmental Initiatives – New Delhi, on the impact of Climate change remain the main background research on climate change and Kochi.
However, the biggest challenge that these newly developed public spaces faces is that of encroachment by street vendors, pop-up shops, advertisers, vehicles and other such impediments, cutting off the path between, obstructing the way and discouraging the people from using them. There are classic examples from Kochi where such beautifully developed spaces are encroached upon in no time by these elements with active connivance from certain ‘power centers and vested interests’. One of the most beautifully pedestrianized pathways, Main Avenue, Panampilly Nagar (Shihab Thangal road) up to Panampilly Nagar South end has been an instant success and is one of the most active open spaces in the city. To our dismay, a real good stretch of this place is now occupied by street vendors and pop-up shops with near-to permanent edifices especially in areas close to the regional passport office. Same is the case with the pedestrianized pathway near Subhash Chandra Bose Park, Children’s Park, Marine Drive and General Hospital. The pedestrian pathway in M.G road also faces the onslaught of such encroachment including that of hoardings and flux-boards making the area highly ‘polluted visually’ as well. It is very distressing to see these encroachments and visual pollution disseminating the whole face of the city. The tragedy is that when the path becomes difficult to traverse, people opt to take roads and resort to vehicles for traversing even the shorter distances, thus defeating the very purpose. These encroachers are certainly not people from impoverished sections of the society seeking self-employment but on the contrary they are part of a ‘big mafia like nexus’.
I don’t think this is an issue solely affecting Kochi but an issue that almost all Indian urban centres face. It is high time that we had really strived to keep our cities pedestrian friendly and also visually appealing not only for their aesthetic value but also for the larger cause of fighting climate change impact. Where do we begin this from? We need to revisit the land-use pattern of the urban centres for sure and need to ensure that there are enough open and public spaces and proper pedestrian pathways connecting them.
We have embarked on a mission to ‘rebuild the state’ in the aftermath of the worst fury of nature. We are gradually re-building the state to a more sustainable future. It is imperative that we should give utmost importance to re-building our cities too so as to ensure a sustainable future for our urban centres as well. In this pursuit, a small proper pedestrian pathway also gathers immense significance. It is time that we had realized the relevance of such small but significant aspect of our urban living.