Draft second master plan for Mamallapuram suggests several restrictions on urban sprawl

Urban sprawl in wetlands and along waterbodies near East Coast Road will soon be regulated by stringent restrictions.

There will be provisions to strike a balance between development and scenic beauty.

Urban planners at the directorate of town and country planning have completed the draft second master plan for the Mamallapuram local planning area (LPA) located at a distance of 24 km to the south of the city.

The scenic ECR, from Kanathur Reddikuppam near Chennai to Palar river, where pressure for urban development has intensified, falls under Mamallapuram LPA.

Once approved, the stringent provisions of the proposed second master plan for Mamallapuram LPA are likely to emerge a deterrent to urban sprawl around beautiful environs.

According to urban planners, stricter norms to deter zone conversion of wetlands will be in place. Planning permission for development within 15 metres of a waterbody will continue to be denied.

But waterways such as Buckingham Canal will continue to have restrictions along 100 metres on either side. Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules also apply to a chunk of the LPA.

“Urban development along ECR should not affect the character of the area. The scenic beauty of the area should be maintained,” said S. Santhanam, an urban planning expert who is also former member-chief urban planner, CMDA.

“Religious structures along the stretch close to waterbodies have the potential to emerge as big tourist attractions. The scenic beauty of such waterbodies should be developed,” he said.

Mamallapuram LPA is bordered by Semmencheri on Rajiv Gandhi Salai. The boundary stretches from Vayalur village near Palar river in the east to Mambakkam in the north.

Mamallapuram LPA measures 27,758 hectares and its population is booming. The wetlands, waterbodies, flora and fauna are sustained by a suitable climate with a mean maximum temperature ranging from 38.2 degrees Celsius in June to 28.4 degrees Celsius in December. 

High humidity combined with high temperatures and an annual rainfall of 1,100 mm has shaped the unique scenery of ECR. Rapid urban development has affected the migratory pattern of birds that flock to the waterbodies and wetlands in the area, mostly from October to December.

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