CHENNAI: Chennai’s Preliminary Resilience Assessment, an analysis of resilience strengths and challenges in the city, was completed on Tuesday.
At a time when activists criticise the displacement of informal settlements to the city’s outskirts, the report looks at scenarios under which ‘in-situ’ development could be preferred over resettlement, what are some pathways to transform informal to formal settlements that are centered on the needs of residents, how to diversify the housing market to cater to varying demands, in particular for low-income groups and how to reduce vulnerabilities in disaster prone areas.
The assessment report, put together by Chennai’s Chief Resilience Officer Krishna Mohan Ramachandran and his team, was submitted to the Corporation Commissioner D Karthikeyan. Various representatives of major state government departments, city universities, think tanks, active civil society groups were interviewed for the report along with representatives of private sector, through citizen and expert surveys, according to a fact sheet of the report.
The challenges in each of the six areas — water bodies, disaster management, civic engagement, informal settlements, and unplanned growth, were analysed to identify the opportunities that can help take the city’s resilience-building forward. The report also aims to address issues such as restoring, protecting and reintegrating the water bodies in the water catchment areas of Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur in a sustainable manner.
Lack of decision-making systems customised to the city and awareness among citizens, asocial behaviour and citizen’s perception that their voice does not matter were some of the other challenges that come in the way of the city’s resilience. In addition, the lack of integration between various bodies in planning, not incorporating best practices, limited institutional memory when leadership changes, short-term ‘quick fixes’ rather than big picture planning were also analysed.
Michael Berkowitz, president of 100 Resilient Cities, was also present during the discussion with the Corporation Commissioner.