London: Prince Charles, Britain’s heir to the throne, has offered support to a British government initiative for a major urban development project in Aluva, the industrial capital of the south Indian state of Kerala.
The British Department for International Development (DFID)-funded multi-million pound project includes the purification of the Periyar river, popularly known as the Southern Ganges, besides waste management and a congestion free road traffic system. The project will be implemented with the support of WS Atkins and INTBAU, Asian Lite newspaper reported.
The new Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning to clean several major rivers in India including the Ganga and the Yamuna. Most of the Indian rivers are heavily polluted with industrial wastes and fast growing urbanisation is also threatening the very existence of rivers.
The British prince granted a private meeting to a delegation from Aluva to get an update on the master plan and project development. The prince visited Aluva and stayed at the historic summer palace of the former Kochi royal family along with the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, during his last trip to India in 2014. The palace is located on the Periyar's bank.
The delegation included Kerala assembly member Anwar Sadath, Aluva Municipal Chairman M.T. Jacob, Municipal Councillor Jebi Mather Hisham and Cochin Regional Town Planner Pramod Kumar.
The prince received a special message from Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy conveying the gratitude of the state government for his last visit and offer to include Aluva in the DFID’s projects.
Aluva was selected for the DFID’s master plan for sustainable development because of its strategic location and its struggle to cope with the burgeoning urban population. Aluva is the home of Kochi International Airport, the major airport in Kerala. The DFID projects are getting funds from the British high commission’s prosperity fund in India. The Kerala project will get additional funds from the state government and the corporate sector .
“With the UK-aided project, Aluva will be a role model for sustainable urban development for whole India,” Anwar Sadat, MLA, told Asian Lite newspaper. “The British officials will prepare a master plan which envisages the growth of Aluva in the next 50 years and beyond. Aluva will set an example for whole India for urban development.”
Municipal Chairman Jacob said the people of Aluva were grateful to the British government and its people for selecting the town for the DFID project.
Jacob had hosted a meeting to welcome Eric Pickles, British cabinet minister for communities and local government, in June 2013. He also met Prince Charles and Camilla to follow up the project.
During the discussions, the prince highlighted Britain's expertise in sustainable planning and offered help to solve the urban growth related issues of Aluva.
“As a boy I used to bath in the river every day,” Jacob added. “The plight of the river is a pain for citizens of Aluva. We are getting support from all the corners -- irrespective of politics and religion -- for this project. We will set an example for India.”
The project ensures that Aluva protects its heritage while developing the capacity to grow into a world class city that can adapt to serious climate impact.
“Aluva is small town with big problems of urbanisation,” said Jebi. “Sustainable development is essential for the survival of basic human needs of clear drinking water and pollution free air. I hope the British aided project will solve some of the issues Aluva is facing now.”
The project will address long term climate impact and minimise short term impact of unplanned development, with an urban design framework. It will combine local city knowledge and international expertise to establish a framework to guide growth in an integrated manner to respond to the challenges of urbanisation, climate risks and impact on existing and future local communities.
Aluva occupies a strategic location between Kochi Airport and the main route to the port. Kochi metro and freight corridor terminates at Aluva and a large bus depot and railway station serves a wider area.