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Prince Charles to Rescue River Periyar

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Lord Lamont, former Chancellor to the Exchequer, with the delegation from Aluva - Pramod Kumar (Regional Town Planner, Cochin), MT Jacob, Municipal Chairman (Aluva); Anwar Sadath, MLA (Aluva); Jebi mather Hisham, Councillor, Aluva, and Vidya Soundarrajan (British High Commission, Chennai)

A delegation from Aluva, Kerala, India meets Prince Charles and explained the UK aided project. Preserving the Past, Presenting a Pleasant Present and Protecting the Future was the theme Aluva adopted to present its project at the INTBAU World Congress on Sustainability in London…writes Anasudhin Azeez

Lord Lamont, former Chancellor to the Exchequer, with the delegation from Aluva - Pramod Kumar (Regional Town Planner, Cochin), MT Jacob, Municipal Chairman (Aluva); Anwar Sadath, MLA (Aluva); Jebi mather Hisham, Councillor, Aluva, and Vidya Soundarrajan (British High Commission, Chennai)
Lord Lamont, former Chancellor to the Exchequer, with the delegation from Aluva – Pramod Kumar (Regional Town Planner, Cochin), MT Jacob, Municipal Chairman (Aluva); Anwar Sadath, MLA (Aluva); Jebi mather Hisham, Councillor, Aluva, and Vidya Soundarrajan (British High Commission, Chennai)

Prince Charles, Britain’s heir to the throne, offers support to a British government initiative to introduce a major urban development project in Aluva, Kerala, which includes the purification of River Periyar, popularly known as Southern Ganges.

The prince met a delegation from Aluva, which includes Anwar Sadath, MLA (Aluva); MT Jacob, Municipal Chairman (Aluva); Jebi mather Hisham, Councillor, Aluva,  Pramod Kumar (Regional Town Planner, Cochin) and Vidya Soundarrajan (British High Commission, Chennai).

The delegation was in London as part of the annual INTBAU World Congress on Sustainability. The prince granted a private meeting with the delegation to update on the development. The prince visited Aluva an stayed at the historic summer palace of the Kochi Riyal family along with his consort Duchess of Cornwall Mrs Camilla during his last trip to India in 2014.  The palace was located on the river banks.

The prince has accepted a special message from Chief Minister Oommen Chandy conveying the gratitude of Kerala for his last visit and offer to include Aluva in the projects UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). The letter was written in a scroll and the prince was quite amused with the CM’s gift.

Aluva was selected for the DFID’s master-plan for sustainable development because its strategic location and its struggle to cope with the burgeoning urban population. The project envisages save Periyar from pollution; waste management and a congestion free road traffic system. The DFID projects are getting funds from the British High Commission’s Prosperity Fund in India. The multi-crore project will get additional funds from the state government and the corporate sector like Federal Bank. WS Atkins and INTBAU are the technical supporters of the project.

The new Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is planning to launch mega projects to clean River Ganges and River Yamuna, which flows near the capital New Delhi.

WS Atkins will provide expertise in urban planning, economics, climate change, waste, water, and transport focusing on developing a future-proofed urban strategy for Aluva providing a comprehensive assessment of environmental risks and integrated solutions that can generate social and economic benefits.

INTBAU will offer expertise from UK specialists Alireza Sagharchi, Robert Adam, Lucien Steil, Peter Verschuren and Jagan Shan (NIUA) to develop the urban design framework with W S Atkins, and ensure that the framework for climate-proofing is prepared. This approach integrates resilience via technical solutions, with a human scale community based framework, and is informed by a process of learning from tradition of urban settlements and traditional forms and types, values and integration of local craft skills and labour; aims to protect local and national heritage and to balance the pursuit of economic value with development of social, heritage and natural resources.

“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.”

Mr Jacob said the people of Aluva are grateful to the British government and its people for selecting the town for the DFID project. Mr Jacob hosted a meeting to welcome Eric Pickles, British Cabinet Minister for Communities & Local Government, in June 2013. He also met Prince Charles and his consort Duchess of Cornwell Mrs Camilla to follow up the project.

During the discussions, the prince highlighted UK’s expertise in sustainable planning and offered help to solve the urgan 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 pain for citizen 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 impacts. Preserving the Past, Presenting a Pleasant Present and Protecting the Future was the theme Aluva adopted to present its project at the INTBAU World Congress on Sustainability at BMA House in London. Councillor Jebi Mather won applause for her presentation at the conference.

“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 facing now.”

The project will address long-term climate impacts and minimise short-term impacts 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.

It will enhance resilience to risks and define and catalyse a series of early-win exemplar projects to reduce energy intensity, improve liveability and build support for further action. It will provide a model at state and national level with potential for replication in other peri-urban municipalities and metropolitan areas in India to move to a more sustainable growth trajectory while addressing the needs of 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. Local communities and authorities are keen to address industrial and urban development challenges that are leading to pollution and high energy use. They are also keen to find a balance between meeting needs of the contemporary and growing urban population, while respecting the organic evolution of the city, and recognising that traditional materials and local traditional architecture have much to offer in both enhancing liveability and mitigating climate change and resource scarcity.

The project aims to deliver a mechanism built on local stakeholder consensus that can enable capacity building to understand and act upon short-term urban and long-term climate change through a series of processes and tools. This is the first time an integrated analysis of Aluva’s development pathway will be prepared and used to explore scenarios for Aluva’s future development.