Chennai MDA mulls green TDR to save waterbodies

A report prepared by consulting firm Cushman and Wakefield, which had undertaken the study for Chennai Metropolitan Area, has suggested three kinds of green TDRs.
waterbodies near land
waterbodies near land

CHENNAI: To create buffer zones to save waterbodies from encroachments, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) is considering a proposal to acquire land parcels located near waterbodies in exchange for green transferable development rights (TDRs).

TDR is a compensation issued in the form of Floor Space Index (FSI) or development rights which shall entitle the owner of the certificate to construct additional built-up area over and above the limit otherwise stipulated for an area. At present, FSI credit is issued in the form of a development right certificate (DRC) by planning authorities.

The certificate will have details such as FSI credit in square metres of the built-up area to which the owner or lessee is entitled to, the place from where it was generated, and the rate of the area as prescribed in the guideline value at the time of the issuance of the certificate. A report prepared by consulting firm Cushman and Wakefield, which had undertaken the study for Chennai Metropolitan Area, has suggested three kinds of green TDRs.

The first is for eco-sensitive areas such as waterbodies and marshlands including those listed as protected by the state government where no building activity other than for recreational purposes can be carried out.
A top official told TNIE the state is planning to create buffer zones of 50 metres from boundaries of marshlands such as Pallikarnai, Buckingham Canal, boundaries of rivers, and all lakes of more than 10 hectares in size; 20-m buffer zones from boundaries of lakes less than 10 hectares in area; and 10-metre buffer areas from boundaries of nullahs and canals across the state.

The senior official said the concept is based on the Telangana model. After the introduction of the TDR scheme, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in Telangana has issued more than 800 TDR certificates worth Rs 3,095.50 crore, sources said. But some experts are sceptical. Former Anna University professor of urban engineering KP Subramanian said the Green TDR has been in use for a long time in Mumbai to protect ecologically-sensitive areas. He said the TDR along waterbodies should be bought by the government and the ownership should not rest with the land owners as it may pave way for unauthorised development.

Association of Professional Town Planner president K M Sadanand questioned the CMDA’s move to implement TDR on a piecemeal basis rather than it being part of the Third Master Plan which is under preparation. Official sources, however, defended the move.

Talking about the risk of monopolizing TDR, the senior official said the CMDA is aware of the monopoly of TDRs by a few in the Mumbai market. “We are working on solutions to ensure that it doesn’t get monopolised in the hands of a few.”The biggest challenge for the scheme in Tamil Nadu, however, is the lack of awareness and market for TDR.

TDR, which first emerged as a policy in the US in the 1960s, was implemented in TN by creating a separate TDR division in Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority.  However, without legal backing and infrastructure and a common platform to trade TDRs, it had only a few takers. After amending the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act by introducing a second amendment in July 2018, the state government gave legal sanctity to the development right certificate and acquisition of land for public purposes under the act. But still, the response has not been encouraging. The study by the consultant will also look into this issue, the official said.

What is TDR?

TDR is a compensation issued in the form of FSI or development rights which will entitle the owner to construct additional built-up areas over and above the limit fixed for an area.

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