A year ago, on January 22, 2018, the state government had published a draft notification of its plans to annex 1,710 villages in three districts — Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Vellore — and increase the CMA from 1,189 square km to 8,878 square km.
Now, housing and urban development department sources said, the government is thinking about shrinking the proposed expansion. “Farmers in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts have objected to conversion of agricultural lands for urbanisation. Moreover, expanding the metropolis would mean a huge cost as infrastructure needs to be built up in farflung areas to facilitate mobility to the core city,” a senior official told TOI.
So, the official said, the government was looking at maximum utlisation of available space in the core city and urbanised pockets in the suburbs for residential development in the light of the substantial hike in floor space index (FSI) announced recently.Currently, the purview of the Chennai metropolitan development authority (CMDA) covers a planning area of 1,189 square kilometres with a radius of about 30 kilometres. Uthandi is the last village in the east, Karanodi and Kilambakkam form the boundaries in the north and south respectively. Thirunindravur in Tiruvallur district is the boundary of CMA in the west.
After the draft notification was issued on January 22, 2018, public hearings were held to elicit the views of the locals in the three districts. There was a lot of opposition from farmers in Kancheepuram, and Tiruvalluvar who did not want to give up their land.
Official sources say that now the thinking in the government is that only areas well-connected with the available rail infrastructure should be included in the CMA. For instance, Chengalpet in the south has good suburban rail connectivity with Chennai. And Gummidipoondi in the north, in Tiruvallur district, has frequent electric multiple unit (EMU) services to Chennai. These two towns could form the northern and southern boundaries a new, scaled down CMA.
“Such existing transportation systems would be a key factor to finalise the extent of expansion, whether it is 3000 square km or 4000 square km,” said an official in the housing and urban development department.
The final notification would be tweaked accordingly to reduce the number of village that would figure in the CMA.
The government is also looking at exclusive regional plans for those areas that would be kept outside the purview of the metropolis. “In those areas, preserving agriculture would be the focus,” the official said.