Let us make this a short one. What would be the best solutions to the urban development problems of Mumbai and Chennai? I would vote for smart development policies that are designed around compact housing, more housing and yet more housing.
But policymakers working under the shadow of real estate speculators are talking of grand solutions and not intelligent building, but more sprawl. It is these same policymakers, starting with our babus, who have made a mess of conventional services like water supply, roads, sanitation and sewerage, and public transport.
This uninspiring group has been speaking in recent days of high cost solutions to Mumbai’s congestion such as a Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) train, a la Shanghai.
In Chennai, the bureaucrats have been equally ambitious, airily speaking of urban sprawl that stretches from the Andhra Pradesh border in Pulicat, to Arakkonam in the West and Marakkanam in the South. Their day-dream is called MAP or a ‘megapolitan city.’
This sophisticated vision, which will rake in an estimated 15 billion dollars in investment, is supposed to build a triangle of development that encompasses several other towns such as Sriperumbudur, Kancheepuram, Maduranthakam and Ennore. There will be 10 lane highways and metro rails connecting these.
I suppose the simple question that these worthies should answer is, when they cannot maintain a pothole free road in the existing city, lay pipelines in the suburbs for water supply, sewerage and sanitation, provide Plain Old Bus Service (POBS) to suburbs with some credible frequency, why are talking about a pie in the sky, with the Confederation of Indian Industry listening? Just to kick up some land values in these places?
The Hindu provides some insights into the state of affairs today here, here and here. Two people actually lost their lives under shocking circumstances just yesterday because of the incompetence of our leaders and their chosen favourites, our babus.
Here is the PTI copy on the Chennai plan:
TN plan to make state ‘slum-free’ by 2013
Chennai (PTI): The Tamil Nadu government planned to make the state ‘Slum-free’ by 2013 and was serious about removing encroachments, a top official said on Tuesday.
Slum-dwellers would be accommodated in 45,000 houses which the state planned to build, R Sellamuthu, Tamil Nadu Housing Secretary said at a Confederation of Indian Industry conference here.
Earlier, the CII unveiled a proposal at the conference to make Chennai a ‘Megapolitan City’ by redefining the Marakkanam, Arakkonam and Pulicat (MAP) region.
The MAP would be a ‘model city master plan’ to be replicated in the rest of the world, the proposal said.
The proposal based on a study by the CII said Chennai is surrounded by many micro satellites or potential urban centres and MAP could be a solution to infrastructure problems, create more employment opportunities and affordable living conditions with world class amenities and guarantee increased revenue to the government.
It said MAP could help sustain ecology, develop a balanced ecosystem and protect the agriculture potential areas, increase GDP productivity, attract FDIs to the tune of about USD 15 billion and make the state No.1 destination for investments and employment opportunities in India.
Marakkanam is a panchayat town in Villupuram district, Arakkonam is a mid-sized town in Vellore district and Pulicat is a town in the Tiruvallur district.
The MAP region will consist of other hubs like Kanchipuram, Maduranthakam, Sriperumbudur and Ennore, with each of them having four to five sub nodes connected to them. Each of these are to be linked by a major high speed corridor with eight to 10 lanes, and will also be linked by a metro rail system.