CHENNAI : The fate of expansion of Chennai Metropolitan Area hangs in the balance as Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) is yet to file a counter to a public interest litigation petition filed six months ago against expansion of Chennai metropolitan area limits from 1,189 sqkm to 8,878 sqkm. Former Anna University professor K P Subramanian, who approached Madras High Court opposing expansion, said the case is pending as the government has yet to file a counter.
Subramanian in his plea stated that CMDA was unable to implement the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act of 1971 effectively even within the existing metropolitan area and therefore, it would be highly improbable for it to do so in a much bigger area. The government pleader on March had sought time to get instructions from the authorities concerned, prompting the High Court to adjourn the hearing to March 19.
There has been no development in the case thereafter. This comes after Madras High Court directed its Registrar general to issue instructions to the registry that in the event of not filing counter affidavit or documents by the respondents or litigants within the time limit of three months as stipulated in the rules to regulate proceedings under Article 226 of the constitution, the litigants or respondents have to explain reasons for such delay in the affidavits.
Rule 3-A of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution has not been incorporated by the High Court in the Rule Nisi Notice, which is to be issued to the parties in the writ petition. Though the rule was amended in 1965, it has not been incorporated in the Rule Nisi Notice being issued by the High Court.
This comes after the Chief Secretary has ticked off all secretaries of the State government departments to ensure that counter affidavits and relevant documents are filed within the three month period. It is learnt that most of the departments are having more than 10-year old cases without filing counter affidavits. In some cases, the pendency is due to want of draft counter affidavit from the departments.
Why PIL opposes expansion
Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority was unable to implement Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act of 1971 effectively even within the existing metropolitan area. The law empowers CMDA to survey the lands and prepare detailed master plans and development plans. The law also authorises the Authority to undo unauthorised developments and also to stop those that had been developed in contravention of the permission granted by it.
CMDA does not have the manpower and infrastructural facilities to enforce the law on an expanse of over 8,000 sq.km. As such it will lead to more number of cases being filed in court in connection with building violations.
Since the proposed expansion would affect the quality of life and standard of living of all, objections should be called for even from those residing within the existing metropolitan area.
Section 9 of the Act requires the CMDA to review the master plan once in five years, but such an exercise had not been carried out even once within the metropolitan area.