Hope on horizon as CMDA gets new captain

Stakeholders believe Sekar Babu will bring changes as transformative as ones he introduced in HR&CE department
Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA)
Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA)

CHENNAI: Over the past 15 days, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) witnessed two massive changes at its top—replacement of its vice chairman with the transfer of the then housing secretary Hitesh Kumar Makwana and HR&CE Minister PK Sekar Babu coming to the helm of its affairs.

The changes at the planning agency, which is under fire for the reclassification of waterbodies after initially rejecting all the five applications during the first CMDA authority meeting of the DMK government, came as a surprise to many.

Employees, developers and builders hope that the changes would improve work culture at the planning body as the minister is easily approachable. “We could see changes in CMDA as remarkable as those he brought to HR&CE department. Similarly, pendency of files will also be resolved,” said a developer.

Meanwhile, minutes of last month’s meeting are yet to be cleared despite announcements that some of the waterbodies are going to be reclassified as institutional and residential zones. A former planner hopes the decision to this effect should be rescinded and CMDA, being a planning agency, should focus more on planning than on revenue records.

There have also been allegations of simmering discontent within CMDA, with sections of employees alleging favouritism toward new recruits. It is learnt that the minister on Thursday gave a patient hearing to all their grievances and vowed to resolve them soon.

Meanwhile, Sekar Babu and the new housing secretary face new challenges as pending projects like Kilambakkam bus terminus, which has gone past the deadline, have to be cleared soon. Similarly, officers should ensure more participation from public in the preparation of the third master plan. And the notification for expansion of Chennai Metropolitan Area, which is to be extended to 5,904 square km, should be expedited. Work on developing the five satellite towns in Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Thirumazhisai and Minjur should also be expedited, said sources.

The other issue would be to monitor the catchment in Red Hills so that they are not reclassified as it pertains to water security. The unlocking of land parcels along the Outer Ring Road should also be studied by Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority, which could provide a proper roadmap of developing this stretch.

Similarly, there should be a proper representation of people for the proposed redevelopment of George Town, which was lacking during the first meeting. The new officers should also probe the contracts awarded to various agencies over the past 18 months. There are allegations that a particular institution from Gujarat had won a majority of contracts for consultancy, overlooking the state’s premier institutions, a former planner said.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express