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Master Plan

Chennai low on livable city index

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The New Indian Express 01.09.2009

Chennai low on livable city index


The Second Master Plan for Chennai Metropolitan Area-2026 was notified by Government of Tamil Nadu in September 2008. The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority had earlier published its draft in April 2007. According to this, the projected population of Chennai city would be 5.9 million and Chennai Metropolitan Area 12.5 million by 2026.

The Master Plan’s ‘Vision 2026’ aims to make Chennai a “prime metropolis which will be more livable, economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable, and with better assets for the future generations.”

The objective of Chennai’s urban plan therefore is to “provide the citizens a better quality of life through environmentally sustainable, economically progressive, technologically innovative, proactive, development oriented urban planning and management policies, programmes and practices with equitable public participation,” and not just real-estate oriented big-ticket projects and structures.

It is in this context that one should look at Mercer’s worldwide ‘livability ranking’. Mercer is the global leader for trusted human resource and related advice, products and services. Their ‘Quality of Living Survey’ annually ranks world’s cities by evaluating local living conditions based on 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories.

These are: political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement); economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services); socio-cultural environment (censorship, limitations on personal freedom); health and sanitation (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution); schools and education (standard and availability of quality schools); public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transport, traffic congestion); recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure); consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars); housing (housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services) and natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters).

For 2008, Mercer ranked 215 cities worldwide. Chennai was 152nd - at the bottom among Indian cities. Bangalore was ahead at 142nd place, followed by Delhi at 145 and Mumbai at 148. Apparently, Chennai, which aspires to be a ‘Global-city’ through the real-estate route, is way down the ladder on the global ‘livability’ standards by which urban settlements are judged.

The SC had earlier (Dec 2006) castigated the city thus: “The whole city of Chennai is now unlivable because you allowed unauthorised constructions to flourish in violation of all building laws. Let the people live in peace. Let there be some discipline.” Though this stricture was issued in the context of the State Government protecting those who indulge in gross violation of building rules and regulations, it does apply in a general sense to the livability and quality of life in Chennai.

Let us look at it from the perspective of just three of the 10 categories listed by Mercer - health and sanitation; schools and education; and housing. Though trumpeted as the ‘healthcare capital of India’, the state of health and sanitation in the city is near dismal. Though for the well-heeled there are star-hospitals run as corporate profit centres, the poor are left in the lurch even for basic healthcare services. Accessing government hospitals and its competent doctors are traumatic experiences for those without money or influence. At every stage corruption is rampant. As for preventive care, it practically does not exist.

Regarding sanitation, less said the better. One look at the appalling state of the city’s slushy slums, garbage-ridden lanes, stinking waterways, rotting vegetable markets, and un-hygienic fish/meat stalls can speak volumes of the dirt and filth that exists. Open defecation and urination, even by women, that takes place on the city’s roads and streets, river banks, beaches and railway tracks is a shame for any civilised society!

Coming to schools and education, it has become a money-power game. In the garb of privatising education, unfettered commercialisation has crept into this sphere. The quality of schools, barring exceptions, is low both in learning and sport. Character building and lessons in honesty and integrity have become a rarity. There is huge disparity between the standards of education available to the rich, middle-class and the poor. Infrastructure and facilities available in most of the government and corporation schools is near dismal. Most of the private schools are no more than rote-based ‘teaching’ shops.

Housing deficit among poorer and economically disadvantaged sections is huge and their environmental condition is worsening by the day. Public housing and rehabilitation agencies - Housing Board and Slum Clearance Board - are operating in an impersonal and sometimes inhuman manner, often stuck on ‘tokenism’. The private sector is uninterested in housing for the poor and low-income groups and rental housing for this segment is almost non-existent. With the urban land beyond the reach of the low-income, the non-affluent and non-privileged groups, the housing crisis is simmering.

There is nothing wrong in aspiring to become a ‘Global-city’. But first things first and that is ‘quality of life and livability’. This is where tax-payers money should go.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 September 2009 01:46

Zoo master plan amended

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The Hindu 27.08.2009

Zoo master plan amended

Staff Reporter

It has been forwarded to Central Zoo Authority for approval

TIRUCHI: The State Forest Department has amended the comprehensive master plan of Tiruchi zoological park that is to come up inside the sprawling Reserve Forest in M.R. Palayam, a few kilometres from the city, and forwarded the document to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for approval.

The amended plan contains certain additional features which the Forest Department has proposed to create in a portion of the area set aside for “future development” of the zoo which will come up in a total area of 63 hectares along the Tiruchi-Chennai national highway.

The original master plan sent a few months ago to the CZA had set aside 15 hectares for “future development” of the “medium zoo” which is to be set up with funds provided by the State government and the CZA.

The CZA, a statutory body under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, had sought from the State Forest Department the type of facilities it proposed to create in the area set aside for future development of the zoo.

Based on this, the Department incorporated additional features in the master plan and forwarded it to the CZA a few days ago along with the revised layout plan of the zoo through the Chief Wild Life Warden, Chennai.

Under the amended plan, the Department has proposed for establishment of a Nocturnal Animals House; boating facility; solid waste treatment plant; disaster management centre; captive breeding centre of locally endangered species and a veterinary research and forensic laboratory in the area earmarked for “future development” of the zoo, says Divisional Forest Officer, Social Forestry Division, Tiruchi Deepak Srivasthava who was entrusted with the task of preparing the master plan.

The full-fledged disaster management centre will take care of emergencies such as flooding, outbreak of fire, escape of wild animals and drought situation inside the zoo. Every enclosure inside the zoo is proposed to be fitted with emergency alarms and connected to the disaster management centre, says Mr. Srivasthava.

In addition to carrying out research activities, the veterinary research and forensic lab will also probe the cause of death of animals.

Over 500 animals

The zoo will house over 500 animals and birds of 39 species.

The waste treatment plant would treat all liquid and solid wastes generated in the zoo and recycled. The Department has proposed an expenditure of Rs. 3.6 crore for the creation of these additional facilities, he added.

A sum of nearly Rs. 65 crore has been proposed for setting up the zoo and its maintenance for five years. The CZA will provide 100 per cent funds for activities relating to animal housing, its upkeep and veterinary care.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 August 2009 05:51

Modified Master Plan for Tiruchi local planning area approved

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The Hindu 20.08.2009

Modified Master Plan for Tiruchi local planning area approved

Special Correspondent

The draft plan covered the physical features, population, land use, analysis etc.,

CHENNAI: The State government on Wednesday announced its approval of the modified Master Plan for Tiruchi local planning area.

“The modified Master Plan aims at utilising every bit of land for the optimum benefit of the people, providing for adequate amenities, urban infrastructure facilities keeping an eye on economy and create a healthy, comfortable and safe environment to live in and also to make the town functionally efficient and economically viable,” an official release said.

In July 2005, the government gave its consent to the Commissioner of Town and Country Planning for the preparation of the modified Master Plan. In May 2009, the Commissioner sent the draft Master Plan to the government for approval. The draft Plan covered the physical features, population, land use, analysis, assessment, zoning regulation and land use schedule with correction statement with maps, both for existing land use and the proposed land use.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 August 2009 05:11

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