A Chennai based policy institute has suggested the government to reorganise the geographical boundaries, get various government agencies to talk to each other, unlock data to spur the city's growth and make citizens manage resources, as part of expansion of Chennai city, which could make it the second largest city after Delhi, in the country.
With the expansion, the geography of the city will grow seven-fold to 8,878 sq km, as the whole of Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur, and parts of the Arakkonam and Nemili taluks in Vellore district will be absorbed into the metropolitan area. In all, 1709 villages will be added to the city. The primary goal of the new expansion is to ensure development is broad-based and takes place in a planned manner. The study has been mooted by Mylapore Institute for Policy Research (MIPR).
"We have identified governance as an important factor in the effective functioning of large cities," said Shiv Kumar, president of MIPR. It has commissioned How India Lives, a startup by journalists to conduct detailed on-site study taking feedback from various stakeholders.
V Balasubramanian, secretary, MIPR said, "MIPR’s recommendations are primarily aimed at making the idea of Greater Chennai truly work- generate employment, nurture environment, provide good quality housing and essential services and create efficient transport networks”.
The current population of Chennai district is 4.68 million, making it the sixth most populous city in India. The proposed expansion will see the population rise to 11.8 million, going by the 2011 Census data. The steady stream of people migrating to the city in search of a better life has taken a heavy toll on the city’s resources. By expanding the city’s limits, the state government is now hoping to reduce this pressure on the city by developing a much wider area, in a planned and uniform manner. It is hoped that the expansion will help the city attract investments. In particular, the expansion should assist in more job creation in the MSME sectors and stem the exodus of jobs to neighbouring states.
The CMDA plan area will now expand to all of Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur, and some parts of Vellore and Arakkonam, which means all building plan approvals beyond a certain threshold will have to be obtained from the CMDA.
While those who are expected to come under the expanded city limits hoped that the expansion will increase the land prices and would transform their villages, those who are living within the existing metropolitan area were concerned about the ability of the authorities to manage such large-scale expansion in an organised manner. The previous expansion was successful in meeting its goal, says the study. Multiple authorities controlling the same region could be one challenge, mainly on the coordination part.
The role of the mayor should be strengthened, investing in the technical staff, promoting modular development, pooling land for better usage, focus on urban slums for upward mobility, spending on the basis of population and plugging enforcement loopholes are the other points to be taken care of by the government while expanding the geographical area of the city, it added.