Mobilise Your City (MYC) project, an initiative of the Union Government to reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions related to urban transport. Kochi is one of the cities selected for the MYC project. Urban Mass Transport Company (UMTC) has been entrusted with the task of implementing the project in Kochi.
Under the MYC programme, the Corporation is planning to construct a 2.5-km-long corridor between North and South railway stations in Ernakulam and thereby decongest MG Road and Chittoor Road. As part of the green corridor project (North – South corridor), a detailed analysis of the stretch was done and the result of the same was presented before the Hon’ble Mayor by the consultants. The meeting was attended by Sri. P.M Harris, Works Committee Chairman, Councillors, Mr.Nithin Norbert, Railway Division Manager, Mr. Dennis Jose, UMTC and the representatives from c-hed.
The Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development (c-hed) and Ashoka Trust for Reserarch in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), organised a 1 day workshop where we discussed and deliberated on measures for water conservation including developing awareness and strategies to help fight climate change. The event was supported by the Kochi Municipal Corporation and Department of environment and climate change,Government of Kerala.
The workshop was preceded by a technical session by ATREE project coordinator Jojo T.D and district rainwater harvesting project secretary Jose.C.Raphel. The technical session explained the practical steps that can be adopted to save water. The programme was aimed at making people aware of different measures to conserve water. An innovative method for water conservation by using wall-mount urinals in houses was also introduced to Kochi residents. These water conservation methods will minimize the water usage and will reduce the water scarcity issue in the city.
Dr. Rajan Chedambath (Director, Centre for Heritage , Environment and Development) shares his views on whether Kochi is prepared to face climate change challenges.
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The Kochi Municipal Corporation in association with the World Resources Institute India organized a ‘Mapathon’ in coordination with the Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development, as part of the Cities4Forests project from 9 to 11 January, 2020 at St. Teresa’s College, Kochi to develop monitoring mechanism in Kochi and enhance community participation in restoration.
Kochi is the only city in the country to have been selected for the project last year. In the first phase of the project, councillors from the Corporation’s 74 divisions along with local experts participated in the mapathon which identified the current land use in the divisions using satellite images. The purpose of the mapathon is to establish baseline and assess the trends in tree cover and identify potential areas for restoration in the city. Buildings, green patches, open spaces, waterbodies and roads were also mapped by WRI in consultation with the councillors after which they identified the areas in their divisions where trees can be planted. The three-day exercise will result in a map that can suggest spaces in the city that are conducive to the growth of green patches.
In the second phase of the project, the Corporation will determine the implementation of the project and which trees are to be planted.
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.
The Subhash Bose park which is maintained by the Center for Heritage, Environment and Development is rich in biodiversity. Under the interact bio project, jointly conducted by Kochi Municipal Corporation, c-hed and ICLEI, Mapping, Identification and Naming of trees in Subhash Bose Park were done. A total of 434 trees were identified which included 61 species of 24 families of which 157 are indigenous trees and 277 are alien trees.
The tree naming ceremony and the handbook release were held in Subhash park on the 6th of February 2019. The trees were tied with boards containing their common name, scientific name and their native and the handbook containing details of the trees in the park was released by Justice (retd.) K. Sukumaran, an enthusiast in environment conservation. Mayor Soumini Jain presided over the event which was also attended by Imani Kumar, director, ICLEI- South Asia.
Trees of Subhash Chandra Bose Park
Cities4Forests is a movement conceptualised to catalyse political, social, and economic support among city governments and urban citizens to integrate the inner, nearby, and faraway forests into city development plans and programs. Cities4Forest helps cities from around the world connect with and invest in forests. The project is initiated by a consortium of international agencies like World Resource Institute (WRI), Pilot Projects and REVOLVE with the involvement of mayors’ offices and supported by other sub-national agencies from around the world. The project will be implemented 45 cities from across the world for the project which aims at incorporating forests into the urban strategy to address climate change issues. Kochi is the only city selected from India on the list.
The Initiative was launched on 7th August 2019, in Kochi. The launch witnessed stakeholders from various walks of life – City Administration, engineers, city planners, conservationist, civil society, educational and research institutions come together in a bid to use the platform of Cities4Forests to leverage green infrastructure of the city to improve resilience. Participants shared an aspiration to help reduce deforestation, restore forests (including more trees in cities), and manage forests more sustainably. The goal of the project is to amplify current best practices and extend the deliberate city-forest relationship to the global scale on which cities and forests interact. On behalf of Kochi Municipal Corporation, the Centre for Heritage Environment and Development (c-hed) supported the organization of the event.
The Kochi Municipal Corporation in partnership with French Development Agency (AFD) and GIZ, organized two day training workshop on sustainable and low carbon urban mobility in association with MYC and SMART-SUT, on 25th and 26th July 2019. On behalf of Kochi Municipal Corporation, the Centre for Heritage Environment and Development (c-hed) supported the organization of the event.
The key objective of the workshop was to disseminate information for an effective and well informed planning and implementation of urban mobility initiatives. Various national and International experts from different sectors of urban mobility attended the workshop and delivered presentations and interacted with the participants to help everyone understand the issues and their potential solutions. The workshop comprised of broadly two modules governing the development decision making process, namely ‘Policies’ and ‘Principles and Practices’. The workshop also included an interactive session aimed at understanding the current scenario in the city and state regarding the topics discussed.
Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India is implementing a project named ‘Climate Smart Cities’ in Kochi city which is commissioned by Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The project is implemented by GIZ. The project is aimed to develop climate-friendly solutions for urban infrastructure projects and area-based development as well as the measuring and monitoring of the GHG emissions.
The main focus of the project is to mitigation and adaptation to climate change as well as disaster resilience by 2020, promote selected climate-relevant solutions for urban infrastructure and increase the capacity of cities and regional institutes contributing to reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, develop a concept for an MRV system to document and evaluate the long term envisaged mitigation impact of the measures supported in the three partner cities, disseminate German and international experiences for including climate aspects into Smart City projects through a networking platform and experience exchanges in between Indian smart cities and training institutes.
c-hed is coordinating the project for the city and the programme is ongoing.
The CEPT University is conducting a drawing workshop “The sudden change of the line” as part of their winter school 2018 program. The workshop started on December 17th 2018 and has 19 students from various streams participating. The program is known for its distinctive spirit provides a dynamic and multicultural learning experience where the students can go beyond the structured classrooms to an intellectually stimulating and innovative sessions. The workshop will engage the students to document the buildings at various locations in Kochi for educational purpose through pictures/photographs under the guidance of Prof. Hans Van der Pas, using an innovative design tool. The final day will showcase the work carried out by the students from the past weeks. The summer winter school of the CEPT University provides a valuable learning experience through exposure and interaction. The winter school 2018 is held in Kochi with the support of c-hed.