Contentious clause based on 30-minute city concept: Official
Acknowledging that the clause is tricky, the official, who was part of the drafting process, said, “In metro cities like Chennai, there are many CBDs (central business districts).
CHENNAI: A contentious clause under ‘identification of land for resettlement’ heading in the draft resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) policy was included based on an urban planning concept called ‘30-minute city’, a senior official in the TN Urban Habitat Development Board told TNIE.
The clause in the draft policy stated, “The travelling time by bus or train should not be more than half-an-hour to reach nearest urban areas from where people are expected to be located.” Activists and civil society members had expressed opposition to the vagueness of the clause.
Acknowledging that the clause is tricky, the official, who was part of the drafting process, said, “In metro cities like Chennai, there are many CBDs (central business districts). Areas like T Nagar and Anna Nagar have become CBDs in their own ways. So, the ‘30-minute city’ concept suggests having CBDs in small pockets, building residential localities surrounding them, and making people access such places within 30 minutes.”
“First, we considered radius, road distance, train distance, among others. But after a thorough examination, we arrived at travel time. However, there are chances of misinterpretation during implementation. But, we have to be very careful during calculation of travel time. For instance, time taken to travel during day and night will differ,” the official said.
When asked about the demand to identify resettlement locations near the original place of habitation, he said scripting a clause mentioning a distance from the existing place would “look good on paper” but would have constraints during the implementation stage. “What if we don’t have land parcels available within a particular distance?” he asked, adding that the government is also making efforts to identify lands in the city.
On the demand to halt evictions until the policy is finalised, the official said departmental consultations are being held in parallel to communicate about the draft policy, which is still in its formative stage. “We are informally telling departments concerned. Once the policy is formed, then everyone has to follow the policy. However, it is unavoidable when courts issue orders to carry out evictions.”
He said public hearings would not be organised by the government and the October 27 deadline for submitting recommendations on the draft resettlement and rehabilitation policy would be extended. “We have already placed the draft document in the public domain and are getting several inputs on that,” the official added.
As the city is expanding horizontally, steps are being taken to reserve spaces to accommodate people from economically weaker sections. “They are not encroachers but part of the urban economy and we have a responsibility to provide them with amenities. Reservation of lands is part of such long-term plans. Doing this would be a cumbersome task in established urban centres. Such initiatives can be taken up only by satellite towns,” the official said