Planners with the agency can consider academic programmes; students will have access to data

The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) has been recognised as a research centre by the Centre for Research, Anna University.

With this, students, teachers and researchers in urban planning will have easy access to data and documents on these subjects. CMDA on Tuesday announced that the move will allow for “ collaborative research for the purpose of pursuing Ph.D/M.S (by research programme) under part time mode with effect from January 2013.”

The move is expected to specifically benefit planners who are currently employed with CMDA and who wish to pursue research. Many of them are pursuing research after retirement from CMDA as they were not able to do so while at work. “The officials of CMDA with relevant UG/PG qualification will also be permitted to register for Ph. D/M.S (by research programme) under part-time mode. This recognition is to be renewed once in three years in compliance with the required norms of Anna University,” the release said.

“Good research papers will get published by planners associated with CMDA. This will provide an answer to challenging aspects of urban planning and development in Chennai. In its first year, the centre is likely to churn out five to 10 research papers. We cannot expect a large number of research papers as the planners will also have to do their day-to-day job,” said S. Santhanam, former member-chief urban planner, CMDA.

The existing data generated by CMDA will be subjected to rigorous research by its own staff and other scholars. This is expected to solve challenges to urban planning.

“We need research in a number of topics. The best landuse and economics to promote public transportation; pollution and other benchmarks in planning to aid selection of appropriate projects; preservation and creation of water bodies, marshland and urban forestry in an expanding city; and very importantly planning to aid the expansion of the economy," said Raj Cherubal, Director of CityConnect.

“Institutions such as Harvard and MIT send their students to Chennai to study challenges to urban planning. The new status of CMDA may facilitate better access to data. Scholars can directly contact resource persons,” said a retired official of CMDA

“The top challenges in Chennai pertain to transport, poor class housing, environment and aesthetics. Research has to focus on such topics now,” the official added. CMDA was constituted as an ad-hoc body in 1972 and become a statutory body in 1974 as per the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act 1971.

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