The Times of India report, “A portal for Willingdon” (Apr. 13, 2016), illustrates lack of imagination and dearth of visionary ideas for economic development in Kochi.
First, Willington Island not tourist destination. But it is centrally located in the greater Kochi area, thus has huge potential for development. However, the development planning cannot be restricted to Willington. Properly developed with water transport from surrounding areas, Willington can become a business, commercial and entertainment center for a greater Kochi metro region, extending all the way to Alappuzha [2, 3] in the south.
But the nearby Pathiramanal island [2, 3, 4] could be be a tourist destination, if developed sensibly. The report says, “The failure to conserve Pathiramnal, a picturesque island in Muhamma, has resulted in unscrupulous operators fleecing tourists who want to visit the spot.” The report also adds, “The island is home to 88 species birds, 58 species of fish, 23 varieties of spiders, 34 species of butterflies and more than 160 plant specieis” (“A fragile island goes to seed”). Clearly, Pathiramanal island with proper supervision and upkeep can be a tourist destination.
However, for plans to be viable, the first step is identifying “market activities” (“Metropolitan business planning“) to develop and promote that can take advantage of the unique geographical advantages of Kochi. Currently, the only market activity worth mentioning in Kochi is shopping [2, 3]. Since there is dearth of wealth generating market activities in Kerala, vitality of shopping is dependent on remittances from abroad, especially from the gulf countries [2, 3].
Wealth generating market activities require a skilled workforce, which is also lacking in Kerala. Hence, education reform is a prerequisite for economic development.
Unless a comprehensive approach is taken, trying to develop the Wellington Island in isolation will be squandering its potential.
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