Consultation workshop on T. Nagar urban redevelopment project held
The vision statement of the T.Nagar urban redevelopment project - to develop the designated area into a world class shopping destination - was questioned during the first public consultation workshop on Tuesday.
The participants emphasised that the commercial development could not be promoted at the expense of the quality of residential life in T. Nagar.
About 70 persons participated in the consultation. Most of them emphasised the need for a moratorium on commercial development in T.Nagar. This, they added, was necessary to avoid any further congestion and for the proposed traffic solutions to work effectively. P. M. R. Reddy , a long-time resident, demanded that no open space or playground in the area must be appropriated for parking or other transportation- related projects.
The redevelopment project was conceived by the Chennai Corporation and involves 6.86 sq. km of the T. Nagar area. The civic body had requested Tamilnadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Ltd (TNUIFSL) to assist it and monitor the project. The TNUIFSL, in turn, had appointed Jones Lang Lasalle Meghraj (JLLM) and Townland Consultants to prepare the plans.
Inaugurating the workshop, Mayor M. Subramanian said that though flyovers had helped to reduce congestion in T.Nagar, the increasing volume of traffic was a point of concern.
“The idea of the project is to find out problem points in the area. We are looking at solutions for residents, hawkers and commercial establishments.” Chennai Corporation Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni said: “We are looking at how we can decongest the area. That does not mean building more parking lots. We are aiming to create a master plan for future development of T.Nagar.”
According to the project consultants, T.Nagar, a much sought after shopping destination and major revenue contributor to the Corporation, suffered on account of poor traffic management and inadequate parking space.
The objectives of the redevelopment are to `segregate formal and informal activities' through detailed plans and special development rules, ensure smooth flow of pedestrians and vehicles and enhance environmental quality. Appropriate development pricing mechanisms and investments by the trading community would also be explored.
Participants wanted pedestrians to be considered as the principal stakeholder and Usman and Thyagaraya Roads declared as pedestrian ways with only MTC buses and resident vehicles permitted.
The existing residential pockets of T. Nagar must be declared as a `residential only' area with a ban on any further commercialisation. Building rules and urban development norms must be strictly enforced. Commercial establishments who stood to benefit from the common car parking and other infrastructure developments must be asked to share the capital and maintenance cost of the projects, said Anand Lakshman, a resident.
Some participants raised queries about the legal issues associated with the proposed redevelopment. They pointed out that as per the Town Planning Act only the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) could prepare the statutory area development plan. The absence of CMDA representatives at the consultation was also questioned.
In response, the consultants explained that the CMDA had informed them that the local body can prepare its own area development plan and hence this exercise.
A few speakers underscored the need for the organisers to create more awareness about the conduct of such consultations. The TNUIFSL officials assured the participants that all suggestions would be considered.