Comprehensive Infra Plan Needed In Suburbs, Say Experts
Times Of India [ 14-01-2013 ]

The suburbs will have to wait a while before they catch up with the city when it comes to having reasonably priced civic amenities, say urban planners.

"Now, residential projects are coming up in the Outer Ring Road project areas," says K P Subramanian, former professor at Anna University’s urban engineering department. Projects have been announced before the land acquisition was complete, he adds. "Most of these areas, including Oragadam and Sriperumbudur, don't have water supply, sewerage system or health and recreation facilities. Here, housing projects come before development of social infrastructure as all you need is a road connection to your plot for permission to build mini-townships," says M G Devasahayam, a trustee of SUSTAIN, an NGO in urban development.

The problem is compounded by the fact that development control rules meant for the city are being applied in suburbs. According to a CMDA official, a highrise is allowed if the approach road is of a certain width, the logic being that wider roads in the city will have stormwater drains, underground sewerage and electricity lines. Planning permissions inside the Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) are based on whether the builder gets ‘No Objection’ certificates from Metrowater, electricity boards, traffic and fire services. However, a promoter building a 27-storeyed complex beyond Uthandi, outside CMA limits, will approach the directorate of town and country planning and local authorities who don’t thoroughly scrutinise the applications, says the official.

According to former CMDA chief planner Anantharanjan Das, it will take time before the law and market catch up with the fast-paced development in and around Chennai.

"In the 1930s and 40s, the electric railway line was the only way to reach places like Tambaram. Sensing the development potential, people moved to suburbs along the railway line and areas like Nanganallur were carved out," says Das. In the early days, the suburbs didn't have tarred roads or amenities. The next wave of migration was to ECR that primarily attracted people with enough means to own cars to ferry them back to the city from their farm houses.

The development of the IT Corridor again saw middle class families moving to the suburbs. "The accumulated development of last 30 years happened in the space of 10 years," says Das, who along with his team prepared an infrastructure plan for the IT Corridor up to Siruseri in 2000. Now, projects are going beyond Melmaruvathur along NH45, Maraimalai Nagar and Chengalpet in Kancheepuram. It is a market economy where developers can't be held responsible for providing social infrastructure. "The market will catch up with the pace. Koot Road that connects southern suburb Madipakkam with Medavakkam resembles a mini-T Nagar with its shops. The situation will improve the government acts," he says. It is also up to the government, which collects `100 per sqft as infrastructure charge from builders, to prepare a development plan and implement it, he says.

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