CHENNAI: The Third Master Plan for the capital city is going to be unique as the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) is planning to map waterbodies, said a top CMDA official. The move is aimed at conserving these blue spaces.
The idea is to ensure which areas to keep virgin and which ones to develop. This will also ensure the city doesn’t get flooded due to mindless planning, the CMDA official said, stressing on the need for a participatory approach while reviewing global experiences.
As the threat from climate hazards rise, several global cities have altered their urban planning and design approaches to incorporate nature-driven solutions as a counter to conventional infrastructure practices by harnessing blue elements and the CMDA is taking a lead by including blue spaces into the Third Master Plan.
Initially, the first and second master plan came with land use plans but they failed to conserve waterbodies which were either encroached or turned into concrete jungle. With the government keen on expanding the Chennai Metropolitan Area to 8,878 sq km, it is likely the Third Master Plan will be prepared for the entire area.
Prof S Janakrajan, president of the South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies, who has been spearheading the movement to protect waterbodies in and around Chennai, said that a GIS mapping was done which encompasses whole of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts and Arakkonam Taluk in Vellore. It was found that there are 4,100 waterbodies. “If you look at only Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram, there are about 3,600 waterbodies,” he said.
Janakrajan has hailed the idea of blue space planning being included in the masterplan. “It is a good idea. I had a discussion with CMDA member secretary on this and he promised to look into the issue,” he said, while volunteering to help CMDA in preparing the master plan.
He highlighted that the waterbodies upstream of Chennai city needed to be protected because the gravity flow is from West to East. “The water flows from these districts to the sea. If you maintain all the waterbodies in the upstream, the floodwater won’t flow into the city,” he said. “You can store 70 to 80 TMC water while Chennai’s requirement for one month is 1 TMC. So for 12 months, it is 12 TMC and you can store more water,” the expert said.
Former Anna University professor of urban engineering K P Subramanian says Blue Green Infrastructure (BGI) offers a feasible valuable option for the urban regions facing the challenges of climate change.
“BGI is synonymous with sustainable and water sensitive urban planning. It’s nice that the Third Master Plan will focus of BGI,” says Prof Subramanian.