While the elected members of the DMK and the AIADMK are engaged in political mudslinging, informed official sources blame the State’s poor urban policy, which has not been changed to meet the growing demands and climate changes.
“The State government and the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) are not clear about what they are doing with Chennai. Under the decongestion plan, they shifted Kothawalchawadi market, broadway bus terminus, settlements along Cooum river, tsunami-hit hutments along Chennai coast and timber market near Mint bridge. But permission for new skyrise buildings were given near these areas, defeating the purpose of decongestion,” said a highly placed official who had served in the CMDA.
The number of buildings in Chennai has increased by 10 times in the past three decades, but the drainage and drinking water capacity had only increased by three times.
In 2011, the stormwater drain network was around 1,200 kilometres and after the merger of adjacent local bodies, about 400 kilometres were added. Now the stormwater drain length is around 2,058 kilometres, but the construction pace had skyrocketed by 10 folds in the past two decades.
“The government shifted the Chennai mofussil bus terminus from Parry’s to Koyambedu, then allowed skyrise buildings and commercial developments in Koyambedu. Now they want the bus terminus to be moved to Vandalur. This is just shifting the goal post without addressing the real issues,” another official with the State planning commission said.
“At this ratio, Chennai air quality will soon worsen like Delhi and the groundwater quality had already deteriorated. We need to create more open spaces and greeneries, but the CMDA and local administration policies are conducive for making towns and cities into a concrete jungle, the official said.
He added that TN’s vehicle population in 2005 was less than 80 lakhs and now it had increased by four times and the road space during this period could have surged by 5 to 8 per cent, the official rued.
“The kind of large-scale buildings that are coming up in the north and central Chennai is really scary. Gated communities are coming up with more than 1,000 units and I wonder whether we have the drainage and the water supply provisions for such massive buildings. Urbanisation cannot be stopped but at this rate, it will be an urban disaster,” opined K Srinivasan, former legislator of Park Town assembly constituency. Similarly, the parks and wells have disappeared not only in Park Town but in several parts of Chennai.