The Kochi corporation held talks with authorities of the French city of Lorient -BASTION BUNGALOW,BERNARD BUNGALOW


KOCHI: The Kochi corporation held talks with authorities of the French city of Lorient to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for setting up two museums in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. From the French team, the local body expects expert advice as well as technical know-how on constructing a spice museum at Mattancherry and cultural and historical museum, giving emphasis on maritime relations of Kochi, at Bastion Bungalow in Fort Kochi.

The talks were initiated by Kochi mayor Tony Chammany and Lorient vice-mayor Jean PaulSolaro in the presence of Unesco chief, culture sector, Moe Chiba, on Wednesday.

"Kochi needs the help of experts to restore and revitalize its heritage. We need the help of Lorient in conserving intangible history like culture and language," said Chammany. On the behalf of local body, the Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development (CHED) will take up the heritage restoration programme with the French.

After the first round of deliberations held with the five-member team from France, CHED stated that the project would extend the earlier Unesco-assisted Fort Kochi-Mattancherry revitalization programme to the entire area.

CHED director Rajan Chedambath said that the earlier DPR prepared with the support of Unesco was confined to certain areas. While Lorient would provide expert opinion and able guidance, the ground survey could be carried out using resources available in the city.

"They can guide us on the international practices adopted for documenting historically significant places," he said.

Moreover, Lorient would also support to develop public places in these areas by taking into account socio-economic, livelihood and habitat issues of the residents. The plan is to develop streets and open spaces such as Parade Ground in Fort Kochi into places where "history becomes visible and vocal".

In fact, an agreement for mutual exchange between both Kochi and Lorient was signed in September 2012 during the Emerging Kerala Meet held in Kochi.The French team at the three-day seminar included general manager technical services Jean Michel Herry, director development and external partnerships Alain Noiret, heritage specialist Nathalie Defrade and town planner Reynald Bavay.

Bastion Bungalow at Fort Kochi. Photo: H. Vibhu
The HinduBastion Bungalow at Fort Kochi. Photo: H. Vibhu
How the French would assist Kochi

* Will help to prepare DPR for setting up two museums - a spice museum at Mattancherry and a cultural and historic museum at Bastion Bungalow in Fort Kochi

* Will extend the earlier Unesco-assisted Fort Kochi-Mattancherry revitalization programme, confined to a few historic spots, to the entire area

*Improve public space in the historic district by taking into account socio-economic, livelihood and habitat issues

City of Lorient

Lorient's connection with India dates back to 17th century, when East India Company based its operations in the port city. "The main purpose of building this French city was to do trade with the Orient or the East. And that's how Lorient got its name," said Jean Paul Solaro. Lorient wants to revive its association with a port city in India. According to Solaro, the peaceful co-existence of different communities, religion and its cultural heritage were the factors that made the French opt for Kochi.
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The French team will visit Fort Kochi and Mattancherry on Thursday and chalk out a detailed plan on how they can participate in executing the project. Solaro said so far there were no discussions on funding and Unesco would serve as a common point of contact.