Staff Reporter

Two lakh citizens sign up for mission spearheaded by two NGOs

CHENNAI: In a major civil society initiative for improved urban planning for the fast-growing Coimbatore, more than two lakh citizens of the city have signed up for a campaign spearheaded by two non-governmental organisations.

The Residents' Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC), a people's movement, will partner the Chennai-based Citizens Alliance for Sustainable Living (SUSTAIN) to urge the Government to modify building rules, especially those for multi-storeyed apartments and commercial complexes.

The RAAC signed a Memorandum of Understanding on May 19 with SUSTAIN to chalk out a strategy to secure better infrastructure and civic services for Coimbatore.

The objective is to raise awareness and initiate action for economic and environmentally sustainable development of Coimbatore and evolve suitable regulations and guidelines.

First phase

In the first phase, the SUSTAIN will assess the impact of the current Town Planning Regulations on the physical and environmental aspects and situation in Coimbatore and its environs. It would also collect information on good practices adopted in respect of planning and development regulations in cities and metropolises.

Based on the data, the SUSTAIN will formulate guidelines prioritising the areas where immediate correction is needed, and recommend measures to promote orderly development till a comprehensive urban growth management plan is put into place. The SUSTAIN will also assist the RAAC in moving the authorities concerned for implementation of the guidelines.

Study inputs

The RAAC will provide case study inputs and related information on the present planning and building regulations and their impact on the environment and orderly urban development of Coimbatore. It will organise a public consultation for stakeholder discussion of the guidelines. The guidelines will be drafted by July 15 for being presented at the stakeholder consultation in Coimbatore. Based on the inputs, a report containing regulations and guidelines will be presented. The SUSTAIN and the RAAC will work jointly in the advocacy and adoption of the regulations and guidelines and get these incorporated as development control rules for Coimbatore.

The second phase will address larger issues of urban/peri-urban growth, infrastructure development and urban governance. The NGOs came together on the basis of a shared concern over the direction of growth of Chennai and Coimbatore as well as the State's economic and industrial hubs.

Chennai does not have a Master Plan for the last 10 years and its development control rules are not in consonance with the needs of a modern, technology driven city. In the case of Coimbatore, though the city has a draft Master Plan, it is not being implemented owing to lack of proper development control rules. The RAAC began its initiative for a well-planned Coimbatore, adopting a two-pronged approach creating awareness of the need for planned development and appealing to the local body to create sufficient facilities. It launched the campaign to mobilise popular support. Vanitha Mohan, Managing Trustee, `Siruthuli'; S.V. Arumugam, president, Southern India Mills Association; and C.R. Swaminathan, chief executive of PSG Institutions; launched the campaign on March 3.