CHENNAI: A city is more or less what the urban planners sketch in their charts and how well that gets implemented. But the city’s urban planning body, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) does not have officials in the top three layers – something that can pull down planned growth. After the recent transfers of IAS officers last week, the top three posts in CMDA are either lying vacant or filled in by officials, who are already burdened with work in other departments.
A Karthik, who was the member secretary of CMDA until last week, was transferred and posted as secretary in the BC, MBC and minorities welfare department. Already, the vice chairman’s post in the authority has been lying vacant for last five years and the chief executive officer’s post has not been filled for nearly 18 months.
The housing department secretary Dharmendra Pratap Yadav now also functions as member secretary of CMDA. He also holds the additional responsibility as the commissioner, directorate of town and country planning, which is in charge of the urban planning for the rest of the State.
Sources in the government are worried that too many responsibilities and vacancies in many of the crucial posts in both these urban planning agencies will not bode well for speedy and informed decisions.
For instance, the vice chairman’s post has vast powers and functions more or less equal to the chairman or minister for housing and urban development. This post is usually occupied by principal secretary or additional chief secretary cadre IAS officials. But the post has remained vacant since May 2011.
Inside sources say the vacancies have an impact on many CMDA projects in the last few years. For instance, the two satellite bus terminii for Chennai aimed at decongesting Koyambedu bus terminus have moved at snail’s pace over the last few years.
While the work on the Madhavaram terminus has just started, the Vandalur project is yet to take off. The implementation of the Heritage Act, preparation of the list of heritage buildings and preparation of detailed development plans are pending for years.