CHENNAI: The recent rains have yet again shown that several extended areas of the city lack basic urban services. Experts say this is due to lack of any urban planning in these areas. As rains lashed the city in the recent days, the residents in several areas like Velachery, Nerkundram, Ambattur and Nazarethpet have to wade through stagnant water on the roads. In many places, due to shortage of water for domestic purposes, the residents have to depend on private water tankers.
Experts feel this is a direct and inevitable result of failure to have a proper development plan for these areas. They say the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority has failed to prepare a detailed development plans for these areas, which is also a basic pre-requisite for implementing the Second Master Plan. This has encouraged haphazard development with realtors converting any available land into residential plots.
It has been seven years since the Second Master Plan came into being. But the CMDA is yet to review it. Even the Detailed Development Plans (DDP) of extended areas like Velachery, Ambattur, Nazarethpet and Perumbakam are yet to be prepared. The DDP, which will be prepared area specific, will detail the land uses and how the infrastructure in these areas is to be developed.“The failure in preparing DDPs and to review Second Master Plan has put the entire planning process for Chennai under stake. Making matters worse, CMDA officials meet and tinker with the land use of the Second Master Plan without any public consultation,” says KM Sadanandh, president, Association of Professional Town Planners.
He says the officials are reclassifying the land use without thinking about consequences. “Residential zones are converted into institutional areas, catchment areas are converted into residential areas. The whole planning process is in a flux. It is time either the High Court or the government intervenes to make it relevant,” he avers. A rough estimate would suggest that nearly 50 percent of the population of Chennai urban area, which includes the core city and the sub urban areas, is living in the extended areas.
According to figures available with CE, while the population of Chennai city grew by 11 per cent from 2001 to 2011, the suburban areas of the city grew by 32.4 per cent while the extended areas in and around Chennai grew by 71 per cent.A State Planning Commission’s report has also stated that many urban areas, including Chennai and extended areas beyond the core city are exhibiting faster growth and that there is a need to prioritise planning, infrastructure provisioning, investments and capacity building efforts. However, many feel that the CMDA has been focusing its energy only on building approvals and miss the larger picture of urban planning. Perhaps, until then Chennaiites living in the outskirts areas have to learn to wade through the stagnant water, every time it rains.