The State Government is considering an amendment to the Development Control Rules to implement an increase in the permissible floor space index to those dwelling units built below 50 sq.m. and 30 sq.m., Minister for Information and Urban Development Parithi Ellamvazhuthi said here on Thursday.

Inaugurating a two-day seminar on waterways in Chennai organised by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, the Minister said it was one of the measures to develop affordable housing for lower-income group and provide better housing for those living in unhygienic condition along the waterways.

The Cooum Restoration project would be implemented taking into account the opinions of various stakeholders and public consultations.

CMDA's Vice Chairperson Susan Mathew highlighted the recommendations made in the Second Master Plan for protection of waterways. As per the Plan, the pollution levels in the waterways must be reduced to the permissible standard in five years.

The seminar would discuss further plans to improve the macro and micro drainage infrastructure in the Chennai metropolitan area and also practical remedies for the bottlenecks that have been identified, she said.

Detailing Chennai Metrowater's efforts in reducing pollution in city waterways, its Engineering Director G.Elangovan said the volume of treated sewage let into the waterways has increased from 222 million litres per day (mld) before 2005 to 486 mld now. This follows increase in the capacity of sewage treatment plants.

Some of the deficiencies in the network such as inadequate carrying capacity of sewer lines and treatment facility in pumping stations as compared to the need of the growing population have to be looked into.

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board's Member Secretary R.Ramachandran said though Metrowater's sewage treatment plants had helped in reducing pollution of waterways to some extent, deterioration in quality is noticed downstream of such STPs. The pollution level in Cooum and Buckingham Canal was still high in the points monitored by TNPCB. He stressed “the need to achieve zero discharge of raw sewage” and suggested that stormwater drains must be used only as flood water carrier.

Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board's Managing Director T. K. Ramachandran spoke on the problems of non-availability of land for resettlement of evicted residents. Besides increasing the space of dwelling units from 25 sq.m. to 36 sq.m. and building of multi-storeyed buildings to reduce cost, the Board was considering using latest construction methods.

While 71,000 families have been rehabilitated in 35 years till 2006, about 82,000 families would be resettled between 2006 and 2011. However, with the increase in slums night shelters for migrant population could be provided, he said.

CMDA member-secretary Vikram Kapur and Chief Engineer, Commissionerate of Municipal Administration, R.Regunathan spoke.