CHENNAI: The first step on Chennai’s route towards achieving resilience, that elusive goal that is every modern city’s envy, was taken on Friday with the agenda-setting workshop for the 100 Resilient Cities programme of Rockefeller Foundation, which saw extensive participation from the city’s stakeholders. Chennai Corporation, NGO and private bodies were all represented in the meeting that, programme coordinators said, was the first of many that would decide Chennai’s route to resilience — through natural disasters and chronic stress.
The city gained admission into the initiative in December last year and several meetings were planned over the months on how to take it forward. One of the key issues that would need to be addressed, apart from the shocks and stresses that Chennai would need to face, would be the appointment of a Chief Resilient Officer — an official who would reportedly be from the Chennai Corporation. While today’s meeting addressed all these, it was largely a gathering of the people who would be involved in the process. Chennai Corporation had a heavy sprinkling of officials from its various departments — including the Commissioner Vikram Kapur. “We are still awaiting the formal nod from the State on the program but this meeting is a good precursor to map out our path before that. That is why all our officials and team leaders are here,” Kapur told the audience in his Keynote speech.
The Resilient City programme will see Chennai reshape itself to better deal with problems — both possible disasters like tsunamis and chronic stresses like population explosion. “When we applied for the programme, we listed what we felt would be our greatest challenges, in both shocks and stresses. The priority in terms of shocks for us was the resilience to deal with a tsunami, which being a coastal city we are susceptible to,” said Kapur. “The other shock, a perennial one, was the monsoon and flooding,” he added. Chennai’s application had also listed a growing population, pollution and other stresses arising out of the two. “We have to understand that most of these are interconnected —population, leading to water and sewage issues, transport breakdowns during monsoon flooding etc,” said Kapur.
The meeting saw the stakeholders analyse and exchange ideas on what they felt the city needed and where its strengths and weaknesses lay. The data gathered in the meeting will be collated and analysed by the programme coordinators and the resulting decision is set to dictate the priorities of the programme. “We have collected the data. Now, we will analyse it and form plans on it. We also discussed the office of the CRO and one will be appointment. Probably from the Chennai Corporation,” said Micheal Berkowitz, managing director, 100 Resilient Cities program. The Foundation will pay the salary and expenses for the CRO for the first two years.
Chennai, Bangalore and Surat are the three Indian cities that have been admitted to the program, that currently has 67 cities in its fold across the world, with a kitty of $100 million.