CHENNAI: Rethinking about the area that should come under the expanded Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA), the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority plans to hold a public consultation this month in Arakkonam and Chengalpattu.
"The changes, if any, will be carried out only after the public consultation," said a senior government official. Initially, the previous government planned to expand the CMA from 1,189 sq km to 8,878 sq km. The expansion as envisaged under the earlier plan could make Chennai the second largest city in India.
However, experts have reservations. "The government has to justify the need for the expansion by instituting an independent and impartial study," says former Anna University professor of urban engineering K P Subramanian.
"CMDA couldn't fulfil many of its legal and administrative obligations even within the existing 1,189 sq km. These include a review of the master plan once in five years, implementation of a detailed development plan, development of new towns and urban nodes as envisaged in the first master plan, and check rampant violations of development regulations," said the former professor.
Interestingly, the CMDA came out with a third master plan for Chennai Metropolitan Area recently. While the new master plan would have nature-driven solutions to counter conventional infrastructure practices by harnessing blue and green elements, officials say they are yet to take a decision on whether to go for the master plan or the regional plan.
"If the government does well to focus on the preparation of regional plans for the recently-notified 12 regions, it would enable a balanced development by promoting secondary cities and minimising the disparities between various regions in the State. It would also improve the quality of life in cities," says the former professor.
While officials argue there is a need to expand city limits to regulate haphazard growth, experts argue this could impact the agricultural lands in Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur. "Chennai has overgrown due to migration, leading to squatter settlements, housing shortage, water scarcity, traffic congestion, and pollution. This resulted in the recurring floods, disturbance of the ecosystem, and loss of biodiversity. The proposed expansion of the CMA would aggravate the situation with disastrous implications," says Subramanian.