CHENNAI: Aquifer recharge areas in the Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) may face a threat as the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) has constituted a committee to increase FSI (Floor Space Index) to boost development.
During a recently conducted meeting of the CMDA, the planning authority discussed relaxing norms in the Second Master Plan of the city to increase the FSI. Following a discussion in the meeting, it has been decided to constitute a committee to make a detailed scientific study regarding developments in the aquifer recharge area in Chennai Metropolitan Area. The Committee will submit its report to the Authority for taking appropriate decisions, a CMDA document said.
When asked, an official said the committee will comprise officials from the Geological Survey of India, CMDA, Metro Water and other related agencies. “While some activists are opposing the proposal to increase the FSI, builders and promoters are demanding its increase to allow more development,” he added.
As per the Second Master Plan, Kottivakkam, Palavakkam, Neelankarai, Okkiam Thoraipakkam, Injambakkam, Karapakkam, Sholinganallur and Uthandi have been notified as aquifer recharge areas. Presently, CMDA allows 1 FSI for natham land and economically weaker section (EWS) plots with an extent of 80 sqm and 0.80 FSI for others with an extent of 400 sqm.
Activists point out that increasing aquifer recharge areas will lead to a dense population in the region and over-exploitation of groundwater. Increasing FSI will increase the built-up area which would result in a higher number of apartments and floors.
“Increasing FSI will be an unwise move as aquifer areas stop seawater intrusion. There are already developments along the East Coast Road (ECR) that are against the guidelines. There are several illegal buildings,” Nityanand Jayaram, an environmental activist, opined.
Sekar Raghavam of Rain Centre pointed out haphazard development along Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR). “Increasing FSI will benefit only builders, not people,” he said.