Second master plan – what’s next? city pulse

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ROAD AHEAD: With the increase in FSI provisions, the city is likely to have taller buildings.
ROAD AHEAD: With the increase in FSI provisions, the city is likely to have taller buildings.

A. Srivathsan

“It’s a limited exercise and a detailed exercise has to follow if we have to realise the objectives of planning”

CHENNAI: After 33 years, Chennai has got its second master plan, and much hope is placed on it to positively shape the metroplis. However, even before the plan could be implemented through a Government Order, an important railway link has been dropped and land uses are changed. The recent fire accident in T. Nagar is a reminder about the poor implementation of plan and rules. Will the new plan deliver what it promises and is the CMDA equipped to implement it?

The master plan is a limited exercise and a detailed exercise has to follow if we have to realise the objectives of planning says Tara Murali, trustee of Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG).

Parithi Ellamvazhuthi, Minister for Urban Development, on releasing the second master plan, had emphasised that the plan was only a broad framework and details were to follow.

The master plan has to now devolve into detailed development plans. It is only at this scale can one understand how individual plots will be affected by the policies and the projects such as road widening. The city was divided into 96 planning zones during the first master plan period. So far, only 56 plans have been completed. The remaining 40 plans need to be finished and all the 96 plans have to be updated to incorporate the second master plan polices.

Prakash Challa, president, Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI), Tamil Nadu, says quick publication of detail plans is essential for the implementation of the master plan.

A senior official at the CMDA says they are aware of the shortcomings and will speed up preparation of detailed plans. Outdated survey records are an impediment, say CMDA officials. “Many records have to be updated by the Land and Settlement Department. Survey at Alandur has just been completed and resurvey at Tamabaram is yet to be done. There are many other parts in the city where survey is incomplete.” Whatever updated information we have has been incorporated in the second master plan, says a senior CMDA official.

Transparency matters

Transparency of the master plan implementation seems to be a concern for many.

Ms. Murali suggests that preparation of detailed plan involves local bodies and the information be kept accessible to the public. “The land use prepared by the master plan has to be adhered to and any changes to it need to follow clear guidelines and the process must be transparent.”

Water bodies such as Pallikkaranai have to be protected from objectionable activities, says Durganand Balsavar, member of the master plan expert committee on land use. “They have to be delineated clearly with proper survey numbers. The recent changes forced by the government vindicate this and it emphasises the need for transparency.”

Much attention has been given to development regulations, but implementation of various projects mentioned in the plan is crucial, says K.P. Subramanian, member of the editorial committee of the second master plan. “The main challenge facing the future of Chennai is the development of infrastructure plan. The root cause for many problems in Chennai is that development precedes infrastructure and not the other way round. The master plan should quickly implement the infrastructure grid. Road network must be put in place and when this is done, development will be regulated efficiently,” he says.

Other challenges

Infrastructure projects such as bus rapid transit corridors have not been fully integrated in the master plan. The two metro rail corridors, too, have been conceived outside the plan. The plan for new Chennai, south of Vandalur, is in its advanced state with land use and road networks marked. This is not part of the master plan, says a government source.

Without a proper integration, these projects will work at cross purposes and the CMDA should take the initiative to co-ordinate and integrate them into a comprehensive plan, says Ms. Murali.

Curbing building rule and land use violation have been the major challenges facing the CMDA. “If the buildings continue to violate rules, no matter what we plan, development of the city will be skewed,” observes a senior official at the CMDA. “We are aware of the limitations of the organisation and it is time to reinvent the institution and second master plan could be the best opportunity,” he adds.

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