This article was published in The Times of India on 13/09/2018
The city is ranked 45 in the livability index of 111 cities released by the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs (MoHUA), way ahead of Thiruvananthapuram, which has a rank of 71.
Kochi is rated high for clean air and governance and has a rank of six in both these categories. City watch groups say low pollution could be because of the two monsoons which touch Ernakulam cleaning its air.
While the parameters and measuring tools of the index have puzzled socioeconomists, the differences in the rankings and percentage points indicate that what Kerala sees as priority is measured on a different scale by rating agencies. There is also the issue of incorrectness or absence of data. “One of the main concerns with data in Kerala is that there is no specific agency which
handles it and sends it across when asked for such ranking. Some agencies send it immediately while others don’t,” said D Dhanuraj, chairperson, Kochibased think tank, Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR).
“It is important to be a planned city. When you are a planned city, funding from agencies will be much easier. A lot of points are given for infrastructure, urban mobility, waste management, pollution, public spaces,” said K J Sohan, former mayor, Kochi corporation.
MoHUA, which conducted the study defines ease of living based on concepts like healthy communities, economic development, environmental sustainability, and social capital and cohesion. It is intrinsically linked to physical amenities such as water supply, solid waste management, and presence of parks and green spaces etc., and socioeconomic and cultural aspects such as cultural
offerings, career opportunities for citizens, economic dynamism, and safety and security.
The ‘Ease of Living’ Index has 78 indicators classified across 15 categories and organised under four pillars – institutional, physical, social and economic.
When compared to other cities, Kochi fares poor in education where it stands (89), health (74) and safety and security 105. “For a state like Kerala this is really strange. One does not know if the required data was sent on time for some parameters,” said Ajith Kumar N, director, Centre for science and economic studies (CSES).
The rating for the city is much better in housing and inclusiveness, public open spaces, power connection and mixed land use. “While here, we would say that we don’t have many public open spaces but they look at it differently,” Sohan said.