Where are Chennai’s lung spaces disappearing?

In the last four years, 11 open spaces in the city have been converted into residential and commercial spaces

Published: 09th August 2019 06:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th August 2019 06:24 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: In a matter of four years, as many as 11 open spaces in Chennai have been converted into residential and commercial establishments. This raises the question on whether the main planning authority of the city, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) is making Chennai more and more of a concrete jungle by cutting down such green spaces.

This was revealed by an RTI reply given by the CMDA on Tuesday (August 6) to the civic-rights NGO Arappor Iyakkam. The CMDA said between 2015 and 2018, 11 such open space and recreational lands have been reclassified by CMDA, enabling huge gated communities and shops to be constructed on such spaces. They were found in Mylapore, Thiruvanmiyur, Ambattur, Tondiarpet, and Perambur.

David Manohar, an activist from Arappor Iyakkam, who filed the RTI application, accused the CMDA of failing to implement the regulations it had created. “When a builder plans construction in a layout, they are mandated to keep aside, a certain portion of land as a part of Open Space Reservation or as recreational land. But if the CMDA reclassifies this and enables construction on this, the whole point of this regulation is lost. Why do we need a planning authority at all, if rules are grossly violated?” he added.

One such example is the construction of a gated community on 160 acres of open space recreational land near Thiruvanmiyur MRTS station. Along Loop Road at Nochikuppam in Santhome, Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board has built a tenement for the fisherfolk on three acres of recreational land. Also, in Thirumullaivoyal near Avadi, 17 acres of recreational land had been reclassified by CMDA, for converting it into an institutional zone, back in 2015. In an already thickly populated area like Mylapore, 5.3 areas of recreational space was converted into a mixed residential zone by CMDA in 2018.

Even land kept aside for essential establishments like schools have not been spared. They have been reclassified by CMDA to make way for apartments. Two such cases were found in Thiruvanmiyur. 
”This is indeed a complicated issue as one cannot criticize the government’s effort for the betterment of the underprivileged and the general public. But at the same time, if they make a master plan for a city, they should stick to it. They should plan accordingly before a big boom of development occurs, not after,” said Sridhar Venkataraman, a social activist, referring to the recent construction of a police station on a lake in Sholinganallur.

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