Satellite city lost in tangle of murky politics

The big story in Chennai these last few months has been the shooting prices of real estate. The subtext, of course, is the accompanying spurt in the population. As for today, the Chennai metropolis has a population of nearly 71 lakh people.
It was in this situation that the DMK had made the promise of building a series of satellite towns around the city to accommodate its booming population. These were envisioned as self-sufficient localities, which would help the congested city improve its image – make it friendlier for the IT sector, better its infrastructure and accommodate its teeming thousands.

Last week, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi announced on the floor of the Assembly the first of these satellite city projects. The first city was to come up near the Old Mahabalipuram Road (south of the Vandalur-Kelambakkam Road). The CMDA had identified 30,000 acres for the purpose out of the 1.4-lakh acres needed for the project. The area, the CM said, had clean air and a hygienic environment.
Last Thursday, opposition to the satellite city came from unexpected quarters. DMK’s ally and an important leader of the coalition PMK founder Dr S. Ramadoss held a public hearing in the area, at the end of which he announced his displeasure with the project. He said that more than 13,000 families would be displaced by the proposed satellite city, which had caused panic among the residents.
PMK leader G.K. Mani requested the CM on the floor of the House to abandon the plan. But MK was unrelenting. You are inviting me to a war, he threatened, adding that he only wanting reconciliation.
But only days later, the project was dropped unceremoniously. On Sunday, while making a brief statement withdrawing the project, the CM hinted at the fear of violence under which he was acting. He also did not take up Ramadoss’s suggestion to set up the city in Cheyyur or Madurantakam. Ramadoss had all along been demanding that the satellite city be set up in North Chennai, perhaps with an aim of getting votes in the backward areas of the city.
Opposition leader and AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa too has not been silent on the subject. She has claimed the dropping of the project as a “victory for the people” and has asked the DMK government to weigh the pros and cons of any scheme before it is announced to the public.
It’s clear that politics has usurped a project that would have been useful to the people of the city. At the heart of the debate seems to be the classic argument against modernisation. The PMK has hinted that agricultural lands would be used up to build high-rise buildings. “Don’t displace the poor to provide more luxury to the urban elite,” Dr Ramadoss has warned. He even compared his opposition to the satellite city with that of the NBA’s struggle against the Narmada Dam.
But the PMK has a good reason to keep relations smooth with the DMK. It needs MK on stage when it inaugurates its “Makkal Tholaikatchi” on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, we have to wait and see how soon the DMK government comes up with an idea to build a satellite city that is acceptable to one and all.

5 Comments so far

  1. suppamani (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 9:01 am

    Whether good or that, it is the habit of the politicians to object anything for their personal benefits without considering the fruitfulnesss of the projects.

  2. suppamani (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 9:02 am

    Whether good or bad, it is the habit of the politicians to object anything for their personal benefits without considering the fruitfulnesss of the projects.

  3. HELLO (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 12:41 pm
  4. Karthik (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 6:14 pm

    This is one decent idea that our politicians have come up in all these years and this is almost shelved now. Politics and politicians should mature now.

  5. nandhu (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 6:40 pm

    absolutely agree.
    personal benefits do stand in the way of the greater good.

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