Of visions and recommendations

If it was the CII’s vision document in yesterday’s news, today its FICCI’s 16 point agenda for the city’s development. On going through the packed article in The Hindu, it appears to be a comprehensive wish list, most of which the government may not be able to cope with. However, they do have some very interesting suggestions for the city’s future expansion, some of which have been mooted before.

For one, they recommend that a branch of the MRTS from Tiruvanmiyur be extended along the Buckingham Canal and the IT Corridor all the way to Mahabalipuram. To my mind this is an excellent suggestion that needs to be seriously considered as it can greatly decongest the IT Corridor. Another suggestion is to extend a commuter rail line to Poonamallee, and thence to Sriperumbudur, and further all the way to Kancheepuram. This also a very good suggestion as it would facilitate the expansion of the city in that direction.

Both CII and FICCI have reiterated the need to expand the airport on an urgent basis, and this is very evident both from the point of view of the growth in air traffic, and as a strategic necessity when compared to metros competing for investments such as Bangalore and Hyderabad. Another interesting suggestion is the establishment of two more bus stations like Koyambedu at Tambaram and Ennore. This again will greatly decongest the city centre and cater to traffic from the highway South to Madurai, while the Ennore station will handle traffic from the Kolkata/ Andhra side. Koyambedu will then handle the traffic from Bangalore and the West.

The other thing that is unique in FICCI’s recommendations is to desilt and clean up the canals and waterways and use them for water borne transport! This something that I had written about a long time ago. One could actually have river boats going from the city centre to Anna Nagar along the Cooum, and along the Buckingham Canal all the way to Mahabalipuram! This again could take a considerable load off the roads. This is not at all far fetched when you consider the river traffic on the rivers flowing through many cities such as Singapore.

FICCI also comes out strongly in support of enforcing traffic discipline to manage the level of traffic in future. They also go well beyond that to control spitting, defiling public places and smoking in public with a bill to prohibit such behaviour. This will, of course, have to go hand in hand with the provision of public conveniences in many areas of the city. They also recommend more public areas, parks and the like to make Chennai greener. The other recommendation, which is a crying need, is better water resource management and pollution control.

While all this is well and good, what everyone, including the government, fails to recognize, is that unless there is adequate communication to educate and create awareness of issues such as hygiene, safety on the road, pollution, civic sense etc, the indiscipline on the roads and public places will continue. NGOs will tell you that for real change to be effected in how people behave, in addition to being provided the right facilities, awareness creation is a must. That is simply not recognized by the government. Take the state of the traffic for example. What is the use of creating roads such as the IT Corridor or mandating lane discipline when no one even knows what road rules are?

Anyone who has tried to use a public toilet knows you that you cannot even enter because the floor has been defiled all the way from the entrance up to the actual toilets. This is because many are unawareof the importance of public hygiene, the spread of diseases etc. If you’re used to going in any open space, why not the floor of the toilet? Education and the spread of awareness are the only way we are ever going to get over these problems. On a recent visit to Europe, I found that the French government had a concerted campaign for many years to get the citizens of Paris to stop spitting! It was only after many years that they did, and look at Paris today. Its hard to believe they had this problem earlier!

We have to start now if we want a modern metropolis that is as good as any in the world.

14 Comments so far

  1. blah blah (unregistered) on April 19th, 2007 @ 11:50 pm

    blah blah blah blah blah blah…

    Nothing will happen :-)

  2. Srivatsan K. Iyengar (unregistered) on April 19th, 2007 @ 11:50 pm

    All the plans look good on paper but there needs to be a political will and all the bureaucratic hurdles need to be overcome. Also the opposition for the heck of opposing also act as a deterrant in executing plans. More than the genuine concern for the city and its residents what matters to the people in power is the kinda money they would be able to make.

    Definitely Madras has better infrastructure as compared to B’lore (an over hyped, overly grown village) and H’bad. There is a vast scope for improvement.

    Desalination plant is must and should be prioritized.

    Disciplining the auto drivers or should I call rogues is a must. Effective implementation of water supply to all the residents vis-a-vis the drainage system needs to be expedited. In Mahashtra most of the extended suburbs of Bombay have these basic amenities in place.

    Similar to what is being done in Bombay, redevelopment of slums should be taken up, so that Madras looks definitely an international city.

    Last but not the least, though I consider Madras airport better than other airports in the country, improving the existing infrastructure similar to say a CHANGI airport of Singapore is a well deserving one.


  3. Sachin (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 2:17 am

    Yeah i read the article too. Its interesting stuff, but .. quite frankly… FICCI TN is too insignificant a body to be able to lobby for these investments. And what they suggest is jus way too sensible.

    Infrastrucutre investment decisions have major political angles to them, and they dont necessarily have to make any sense to the end user at all.

    If the cooum becomes clean, that’ll be the day..maybe the mosquito menace will reduce too! i havent seen a clean cooum in all of my 24 years..

    I’ll Be happy if the ring roads, promised flyovers and airport expansion plans are ready by the turn of this decade.

  4. sachin (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 2:22 am

    Srivatsan K. Iyengar , i dunno bout you man… but i saw blore mysore highway, blore outer ring road, blore metro’s work, BIAL, volvo public buses and the general crowd in blore… blore was no where near the term village. There is definitely more wealth per capita in blore than even mumbai. it is ahead of chennai in some respects. you have to give it that.

  5. sj (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 10:09 am

    Bangalore has a lot of positives Sachin however just having a few Volvo buses and an outer ring road is not that good. I have been to Bangalore and it took me more than hour to travel a mere 10Kms. I would be better of riding a camel to get somewhere in Bangalore with travel times like this I would call it a village that is growing but unable to keep with the pace of its growth. Culture wise Bangalore really sucks it has none what so ever so I don’t it can compare to Chennai.

  6. Srivatsan K. Iyengar (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 10:31 am


    You Bangalorean? BIAL has been in place I mean in planning, this past 11years and it is likely to be inaugurated next year hopefully.
    Outer ring road is fine but what about the roads within the city, that is where the crux of the problem lie, METRO, let us hope a repeat of Delhi metro is emulated here, way back in ’90s UB group had formed a consortium for ELRTS which was dropped due to politicians…..

    Bangalore – Mysore highway had its own share of hiccups whilst inaugurating the first stretch with a lot of ban and non co-operation from govt. I have used B’lore airport umpteen times this past 10years it is worse than a village bus stand.

    High net worth individuals are based on the stocks they hold and Bangalore can never beat our Bombay… Just imagine a stock crash or an IT bubble burst, everything would go from bubble to bust……
    What has been the collective initiative of these individuals for improving the infrastructure? an occassional protest would not suffice, effective implementation is necessity…….

    I am not a Bangalore basher, I only try to clear the myth nothing is hunky dory in Bangalore because many jerks from Bangalore are used to making statements as if Bangalore is way above rest of India in all aspects of life, +MADRAS is very hot… as if Bangalore has sub zero temp all through the year…….. In fact the medical study has revealed that Bangalore climate is worst on one’s health………

  7. Sachin (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 4:00 pm

    Srivatsan K. Iyengar, im a chennaite. born here, grew up here. I have also lived in bombay and bangalore for several years and know what the positives and negatives are for each of the cities. Nothing is 100% hunky dory in either chennai blore or mumbai. But the only point here is that, Chennai may have better roads and 24×7 electricity but its GDP is lower than either blore or bbay. If thats a parameter to compare between what a city is and what a village is then blore aint a village.

    “High net worth individuals are based on the stocks they hold” .. thats a leap of faith buddy.

  8. Srivatsan K. Iyengar (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

    Sachin, thanks for the information on GDP. Is there a link for that I would be interested to know about that, according to WIKIPEDIA Madras is the 4th largest GMP….. Definitely Bombay is #1, which are cities in # 2 & 3 any idea?

  9. Planemad (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 10:44 pm

    For someone who has a lived a major part of his life in Dubai and a few years at Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. I would rate Chennai above the rest. Its not all about the cleanlines and wide roads, its the little things that matter most like society, culture etc. A place where one is at ease to live, where everyday is intresting and there are things to see in a city other than shopping malls and cineplexes. A city that you are proud to be associated with and has its own identity.

  10. sachin (unregistered) on April 21st, 2007 @ 12:50 am

    no link, but i know its something like this

    1- Mumbai metropolitan area
    2 – NCR
    3 – Bangalore metropolitan area
    4- chn metropolitan area
    5 – kolkata

  11. david (unregistered) on April 21st, 2007 @ 11:00 am

    I dont think bangalore is larger than Chennai. Its the four metros followed by Bangalore. I would also think that overall GDP wise Chennai would be larger given its well diversified industrial base, leave alone the IT industry. But then again, this is what I think based on past data. We will have to check the facts to verify.

  12. david (unregistered) on April 21st, 2007 @ 11:03 am

    This may help, but its the 2001 census.
    Mumbai (Bombay) 16,368,000
    2 Kolkata (Calcutta) 13,217,000
    3 Delhi 12,791,000
    4 Chennai 6,425,000
    5 Bangalore 5,687,000

  13. sachin (unregistered) on April 21st, 2007 @ 12:07 pm

    ur argument is sound david.. because 1 re in industry contributes more to gdp than 1 re in services

    but service industry (it+ites+retail+hospitality etc) is abt 2-3 times larger in blore as compared to chennai(thats derived by comapring IT exports and number of hotel rooms X average cost per hotel room, average spending power of citizens etc)… from what i understand construction is also bigger in blore as it has a population growth rate of ~ 2% each year..as against 1.5% or so in chennai.

    i think i got my information from some b school white paper that i read a year odd back. if you have some other source of information then please do share

  14. Srivatsan K. Iyengar (unregistered) on April 21st, 2007 @ 4:12 pm

    David/Sachin WIKIPEDIA has listed Madras as the 4th largest Gross Metroplitan Product in India. When they say Madras Metro it includes the extended suburbs I presume whic might include say Chingleput and whereas for Bangalore they might consider Bangalore district which is ~ 5000Sq. Km. Anyways Madras is a very important market.

    As regards for the population same yardstick cannot be applied. As regards for IT, ITes etc isn’t Madras fast catching up with Bangalore….

    Air traffic in terms of aircraft movements + passenger throughput in Madras is at least 20% more than Bangalore….

    Fact is Bangalore with IT definitely seems to have an edge but MADRAS A silent performer is likely to overtake very soon.. Institutions such as World Bank and MNC Banks having their strong presence in banking and back office is a testimony to the edge Madras has over Ban-galore….

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