Work resumes on third master plan, expansion of Chennai Metropolitan Area

The third plan is likely to have a long-term vision for desirable urban development of CMA through a participatory approach.
Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority office
Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority office

CHENNAI: Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) has resumed works on the third master plan, expansion of Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA), and improving road link between Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) and East Coast Road (ECR). It is learnt that Housing Secretary Hitesh Kumar S Makwana and new member-secretary Anshul Mishra has sought more details on the third master plan, being prepared by CMDA.

The third plan is likely to have a long-term vision for desirable urban development of CMA through a participatory approach. Preparation of the master plan for Chennai is part of the Tamil Nadu Housing and Habitat Development  Project (TNHHDP), a World-Bank-funded endeavour of the State government. 

A total of US$9 million, up to financial year 2023-24, has been approved for CMDA by the World Bank as part of the project. Technical assistance from the bank includes a climate and disaster resilience study and geo-spatial mapping to feed into the Master Plan preparation.

Association of Professional Town Planners (APTP) president K M Sadanand said that the State government should enlist professional consultants for the World -Bank-funded project for working on the outlines for the third master plan. A dedicated multi-disciplinary team should be recruited and employed, he said. Fresh land-use survey will be conducted comprising socio-economic and geographical data. “A Metropolitan Planning Committee must be established prior to the start of the next master plan in line with the 74th Amendment, 12th Schedule of the Constitution,” he says. 

Officials in the previous government had stated that the Third Master Plan for 2026-46 will be for 1,189 sq km only. The proposal to expand Chennai Metropolitan Area to 8,878 sq km is a separate exercise and this expansion is not included in the scope of the 2046 master plan preparation. 

But, it would be interesting to see whether the new government would want it to expand to 8,878 sq km. Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI) Tamil Nadu President Suresh Krishn and  Builders Association of India state secretary S Rama Prabhu said they have given a suggestion to the government to include the proposed 8,878 sq km area of CMA under the third plan. “If they plan the expanded area now, it would result in proper development,” said Rama Prabhu. Suresh Krishn said master plan is key to growth in expanded areas. 

But then there has also been opposition to the expansion of the Chennai Metropolitan Area. :Expansion of the CMA was provisionally notified in 2018 calling for objections and suggestions. The CMDA conducted public consultations and heard the views. However, the initial notification was not confirmed as required under the TNTCP Act. Therefore, the Third Master Plan couldn't be prepared legally, for the expanded area, unless it's again notified and confirmed," says former Anna University professor of urban engineering K P Subramanian.

"The expansion  will be a threat to the agriculture area, water bodies and other natural resources, because the masterplan  focus will be on urbanizing the area. It will lead to indiscriminate conversions and over concentration of developments and result in ecological and environmental disasters. As an alternative, the 8878 sq. km could be notified as the Chennai Metropolitan Region and a Regional Plan may be prepared. That will enable decentralisation and the growth of secondary cities such as Kancheepuram, Sriperumbudur, Thiruvallur and Gummidipoondi. Further, it will be an insurmountable task to plan, develop and enforce to the expanded area, when the CMDA couldn't accomplish many of the statutory functions even for the present area with the limitations of manpower and other resources," says the former professor who had filed a case against Chennai Metropolitan Area expansion.

Interestingly, the Second master Plan has been an issue of bother. Builders, planners and academicians have faulted the Second Masterplan, which hardly have been reviewed since it was implemented in 2010. The Master Plan was prepared to provide regulations for development and building activity in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. It envisages a population of 58 lakhs for Chennai City and 126 lakhs for Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) by 2026. As per the Second Master Plan six committees were formed. They include Committee on Economy & Employment, Committee on Shelter, Committee on Infrastructure, Committee on Investment, Committee on Land Use and Environment and Committee on Traffic and Transport.

As per norms, the committee should meet at least once in three months and actions taken by the committee should be reported to the CMDA Authority in the months of March and August every year, said CMDA sources. The prime duty of the committee is to advise about the actions to be taken to achieve the objectives of the Second Master Plan. But with officials failing to conduct regular meetings, it just makes the Second Master Plan look good only on paper, said CMDA sources. Another issue plaguing the master plan is lack of the post of vice-chairman, which was there during the DMK regime. "Lack of the post of Vice-chairman has impacted the planning process and upset the checks and balance system in cmda," sources told Express.

Meanwhile, it is also learnt that discussions were also held on improving the road linkage between Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) and East coast Road. Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority is showing keen interest in improving the road linkage between Old Mahabalipuram and East Coast Road which are two important roads catering to major employment and residential areas of the southern part of Chennai Metropolitan Area. Currently, limited connectivity between these two important roads results in extended detours, longer travel time and traffic congestion in the areas served by roads.

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