Cochin is growing faster than most cities in India. This means that it is growing faster than most cities in the world and certainly faster than most cities in more economically developed countries. The consequence is more people, more buildings and more vehicles. Every month hundreds of new vehicles are registered in the city and this leads to ever greater congestion and air and noise pollution. The problems are exacerbated in less economically developed countries like India where people with little money keep old, inefficient and less environmentally-friendly vehicles on the road. These are responsible for far more fumes and noxious gases than modern vehicles. Also, many people put cheaper kerosene in their petrol tanks to save money but resulting in more pollution and less efficient engines. There are also fewer funds to police properly air and noise pollution sources and any infringements of pollution laws.
Cochin may be the real `happening' city in the State, galloping to the status of a metropolis. But perhaps the only aspect, at least for now, that elevates the city straight to this hall of (ill) fame, is the chaotic traffic system that chokes the city. Driving in Cochin is like working on a Six Sigma process. There are a million opportunities for a defect; in this case a process defect being defined as “getting a dent in your car”. A day with less than 3.4 scratches, dents or bent bumpers means that your driving for the day is Six Sigma qualified.
In India we have right hand drive. And it is common throughout the country, not particularly different in Cochin City. The only small hitch here is that we have a particular species of people called overtake-only-thru-the left drivers. They can at any given time create life hell for you. Then there are those bus drivers who act as if they are the greatest horn players in the world…honking and blaring for all they are worth, their musical extravaganza enjoyed by everyone except normal beings. With such varied species around; Cochin roads are a reflection of life itself. Like in life there are no road signs when u require it and you have to guess by the number of vehicles going into a particular road or open your inner eye and see whether it will lead you to MG road. And in this One-way city if miss a turn, you have to orbit the city like a dogged satellite to get near the same point.
Any visitor here or the regular commuters are left cursing the never-ending traffic snarls and the haphazard parking system in force here. It's true that numerous privately owned pre-paid parking areas have sprouted up in the city of late. But this does not in anyway ease the gravity of the prevailing situation that seems to get out of hand with every passing day. Strangely, the powers that be have not really put their heads together to address this situation.
Making hay of this confused state of affairs are the vehicle lifters, who have found Cochin a real goldmine for their nefarious activities. A look at the police records would show that vehicle owners of this city run a greater risk than those of the other cities in the State.
To make matters worse are the conditions of the roads in the city. The craters on moon could provide better pictures sometimes. To reduce the traffic menace in the city the, authorities are planning the building of flyovers. However, in my opinion, the only result of that will be more digging up of roads, and narrowing of existing roads that not even a fly can pass through.
Talking about flies; how can you forget mosquitoes; another remarkable phenomenon hereabouts. At around 5’O clock every evening we have the beginning of the ‘charge of the night brigade’. It goes on and on into the night entertaining you for all their might. Since the no: of software engineers are on the increase in Cochin, mosquitoes have a gala time with these “soft” targets. Dust, stagnant water bodies, open land, all these make it cosier for the mosquito wings to spread. And that quite makes sultry Cochin a happening place. But the city's number one mosquito breeding point adds a lot of other flavours too. The Thevara-Perandoor Canal is an epic by itself. The Canal which runs through the heart of the city, has been calling for mercy since time immemorial. Meat waste, including cow heads and goatskin, are a regular sight. Besides waste from hospitals and apartments give the water a dirty lustrous colour.
Cochin however never fails to attract tourists from around the world, throughout the year; after all, it is the commercial capital of Kerala-God’s Own Country. But, Cochin really needs to address its problems to keep on attracting tourists. Life has become choking to people who live here and it is necessary that the authorities put in their effort to make life better for them.