A large area around Chennai extending up to Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram is set to be designated as one single urban region for planning purposes. In the face of rapid increase in population in the districts surrounding Chennai and the expansion of the city, a new regional planning model on the lines of National Capital Region, Delhi, is being examined by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA).
Government sources say three kinds of planning regions are under consideration. A smaller region with its southern boundaries reaching Mamallapuram and Tirukazhukunram is an option. The other alternative under review is the delineation of a large area which would include Gummidipoondi, and portions of Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts. The third option is a midsized region. In terms of organisation, either a separate and independent regional authority under which other planning authorities such as CMDA would function could be decided or, alternatively, the CMDA itself could be asked to perform the regional planning role, said the sources.
Since 1974, an area encompassing 1,189 sq. km around the city has been designated as the Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) and the CMDA has been designated as the authority to plan the growth of the city and the area around it. This model has been found inadequate since the areas outside the CMA are growing fast and they have not been sufficiently integrated with the metropolitan area. The recently released 2011 census data confirms that the population growth within the Chennai Corporation has slowed down while in the adjacent districts of Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, it has substantially increased. Between 1991 and 2011, Chennai witnessed a decadal growth of 13 per cent, but between 2001 and 2011 it dropped to 6 per cent.
During the same period, population growth in Kancheepuram increased from 19 per cent to 39 per cent and Tiruvallur increased from 23 to 35 per cent.
In order to plan for balanced regional development, developing a larger road network, implementing an integrated transport plan and identifying a Chennai Mega Region have become necessary.
Some metropolitan cities which faced a similar situation have either expanded their planning areas or radically reconstituted their planning structure. Delhi was one of the earliest cities to implement the idea of a larger planning region. A National Capital Region covering a total area of over 33,578 sq. km, and spread over three States and 15 districts was constituted in 1985. Hyderabad, which earlier had a metropolitan area of 1,860 sq.km for planning purposes, extended it to 7,100 sq.km in 2008. Bangalore has delineated an area of 8,005 sq.km as its metropolitan region and has constituted a separate Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority to oversee it.