Other metros to follow Chennai model for development

A recent article in the Economic Times high lights the fact that India’s other metros are taking lessons in development from Chennai. Most of our urban centres are a burgeoning sprawl leading to tremendous pressure of the support infrastructure and utilities leading to frequent break downs and choke points. Metros like Mumbai and Delhi who had hitherto followed zoning models that were either vertical or flat are now trying to adopt the mixed residential zoning approach pioneered by Chennai. This approach is considered to have dispersed development and eased the pressure on infrastructure compared to other cities.

According to the ET, the exclusive zoning approach, adopted in the West and by some of the other metros, have led to major problems with regard to the support infrastructure. But Chennai chose a mixed zonal approach as it was considered better suited for the city’s social way of life. So the choice was made to suit the lifestyle of the city, rather than force a model on it that would break down the existing social structure and way of life. A mixed zone would be chosen based on the existing use, suitability and potential for future development of the area. In this model, roads less than ten metres wide cannot have special buildings. However, developers could amalgamate a number of smaller plots and form a larger one for a bigger project, provided they ceded space for widening of the road thereby enabling easier access to the larger development.

This kind of zoning enables the redevelopment of areas by companies or individuals. Apparently this was possible in Chennai from as far back as 1975, but it is only now that this approach had become part of the realty development landscape according to a CMDA official who spoke to ET. The infrastructure in Chennai is therefore relatively good as compared to other metros where there has been a lot of demolition in recent years to enable development. Even the IT boom has not made a change in the residential pattern in Chennai as the major IT parks or townships are all coming up on the outskirts of the city. Today other cities, such Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have recognized the merit of the Chennai model and are adopting it. Bangalore’s master plan has already incorporated it apparently.

If only the benefits were more apparent to the common man!

9 Comments so far

  1. raj (unregistered) on August 29th, 2007 @ 9:49 pm

    I don’t believe that Chennai made a conscious choice. City just grew without any planning whatsoever. In hindsight, some of the things that happened can be labelled good. Each time I visit Delhi now, I spot small, but visible improvements in traffic, cleanliness, etc. Perhaps it is now on the upper slope of the curve, while Chennai is on the descending slope.

  2. little Ram (unregistered) on August 29th, 2007 @ 11:23 pm

    This is interesting. No matter that it happened by accident or design, it will be good to debate the merits of these schemes of zoning. I am no expert in urban planning, but I feel that this is a topic that deserves all the attention it can get.

  3. tsk tsk (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 1:09 am

    Sure, we have our merits. But i wouldnt give Chennai anything even close to a clean slate.

    i dont agree that there is no strain on infrastructure in chennai. there are several choke points,and they are as bad as any other metropolitan city during rush hour. Until recently, there was gross inaction as far as the need for more flyovers and expressways is concerned

    One gaping mistake that goes against us is that the we have only 2 major arterial roads that are 6 lane at best, whereas in delhi and mumbai there are several 10 lane highways..

  4. NAMS (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 3:24 pm

    To say Chennai is on descending slope of the curve is not acceptable even though both Delhi and Mumbai have better
    infrastructure…but surely there is a visible improvement in chennai’s infrastructure…if not every day, i can see
    changes happening at least every month…not to forget, the article mainly focusses on the zoning approach of residentiality.
    needless to say, chennai’s zoning approach is one of the best in India…that gives space to all people of society.
    the next best thing is connectivity…in both this areas chennai is surely far ahead of other metros and ETs prediction that other
    metros shud learn from chennai is not false either.

  5. Vivek (unregistered) on August 30th, 2007 @ 11:09 pm

    Whoever it is.. deleting my comments is not going to make any difference to Madras. Ostrich hiding under the sand…

  6. Sunil (unregistered) on August 31st, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

    Chennai’s zoning approach seems to be working in it’s favour; however as far as infrastructure is concerned, there’s still a long way to go. There’s activity all around but it needs to be speeded up. The Outer Ring Road, Inner Ring Road extension, MRTS connection to St. Thomas Mount, all flyover and Grade Separator constructions have to be taken up on a war footing and works expedited.

  7. NAMS (unregistered) on August 31st, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

    yes…unless and until the works are speeded up, there is going to be continuous chaos and problems for the comman public….
    From the entry into chennai… ie.. Tambaram, it is becoming a great delay in all projects… Tambaram ROB is going to be started and there will be much more traffic problems than expected…already Pallavaram, Tirusoolam and Guindy flyover projects are progressing in snails pace..so planning shud be ther and govt shud speed up the things..!!

  8. sam (unregistered) on September 7th, 2007 @ 6:48 pm

    Come on know lets not fool ourselves Chennai has no model David it is just growing and there are no basic ameneties being built no parking, no footpaths, no toilets and you want other cities to follow this model if they do we are in for one big shit hole of a country called India or Hindia should I say as you are controlled by ministers from the North. Tamil Nadu is a weak state that will always remain weak and unable to fight for its rights.

  9. Murali Krishnan (unregistered) on September 8th, 2007 @ 5:37 am

    my pet peeve, so i have to comment. Why is the corporation so bent on widening the roads at the cost of pavements? Now everytime I visit Madras, I dread to walk anywhere. The city seems to cater more for the motorist rather than the pedesterians.


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