Master Plans outline the manner of development of towns and cities with an emphasis on land use, allotments for residential, commercial, industrial and public use. Master Plans pen down strategies for improving urban governance by prioritising areas based on population projections and land use allotments. Chennai’s Second Master Plan (SMP) envisions “a prime metropolis which will become more livable, economically vibrant, environmentally sustainable, and with better assets for future generations”. Implementation is enforced through Development Regulations (DR) and zoning that monitor and control development in the city. This blog examines the vision of the SMP 10 years after its inception and assesses the efficacy of its implementation from the perspective of the urban poor.
Social Housing and Slums
The master plan’s strategy and vision propose development in-sync with economic opportunities, tenure security, and provision of social services and social welfare services through affordable housing. The SMP attributes this responsibility to the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) and highlights the role of the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Act, 1971, in implementing its vision. The Act focuses on in situ rehabilitation, provision of basic services, and protecting slum dwellers from eviction. In contravention to the spirit of the Act, the TNSCB resorts to evictions and resettlements to colonies in the peripheries of the city under the pretext of better housing and environment. A 2018 advocate commissioner report on resettlement colonies identified a lack of civic and social welfare infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and public distribution systems near resettlement colonies. Houses are poorly constructed; they have leakage issues and small Floor Size Index (FSI). The peripheralisation of the urban poor coupled with bad connectivity has affected their livelihoods, community networks and access to the city. This, coupled with dense populations, effectively results in the ghettoisation of the poor.
The SMP identifies slum dwellers as one-fifth of the city’s population using the 2001 census. In 2011, the Census found that this had risen to one-third in only one decade. There could be various reasons for this increase: Differences in enumeration methods, migration, and the failure of the TNSCB to notify slums since 1985. The SMP outlines the presence of objectionable slums along road margins, river margins, seashore and stresses on their notification. These slums can not avail the benefits of programmes implemented by the TNSCB and are often evicted to the peripheries. Unobjectionable slums have some degree of tenure security. These classifications, however, are extra-judicial as they are not mentioned in the Slum Act of 1971.
The SMP outlines two main strategies to solve the slum problem: 1) Reconstruction and resettlement through Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM), and 2) Real estate development through Public Private Partnership (PPP) to solve the housing and slum problem. This PPP model involves the Transfer of (Special) Development Rights (TDR) to ensure the provision of land to the urban poor. This model provides a development rights certificate to persons who give up their land, compensating them with a legal land title and FSI elsewhere. Data suggests that less than 1% of Chennai’s slum-dwellers made use of TDR in 2017. Only 31% of those affected by government takeovers chose to use Transferable Development Rights over the past 6 years.
TNSCB was in charge of implementing JnNURM’s Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) scheme through the construction of 10,000 tenements in Chennai. 77% of BSUP was used to create ghettos instead of focusing on the in-situ provision of services. The process of relocation cost 90 times more than in-situ development. JNNURM was followed by urban renewal schemes like Rajiv Awas Yojana. It was subsumed into the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) Scheme. PMAY coincides with Tamil Nadu Vision 2023, and promotes the eviction of slum dwellers to resettlement colonies far from the centre such as All India Radio Nagar, Ezhil Nagar, Perumbakkam, and Navalur.
The Second Master Plan and the Environment
Urban poor reside in environmentally hazardous areas because they lack the capacity and capital for better housing. It is common to see the urban poor in slums encroaching low lying areas, rivers, and tanks. The SMP placed an emphasis on the protection of natural drainage systems such as lakes, tanks, and river beds. This goal was complemented by the Tamil Nadu Protection of Tanks and Eviction of Encroachment Act, 2007. The SMP projected an increase in built-up area by 330.58 sqkm from 1976 to 2026. Studies indicate an increase of 450.26 sq km by 2016, implying large scale illegal construction. A lot of this is from unregulated construction along waterways and eris in the city. Objectionable slums are moved to low lying resettlement colonies along Chennai’s peripheries. Other affluent encroachers in the state, such as hotels and malls, are exempted because they suited Chennai’s vision of “a prime metropolis”. Encroachments have also affected the provision of public water. In 2017, slums in Chennai suffered from water shortage despite having taps installed in every street. This is because eris and wetlands that soaked up groundwater have been encroached upon.
The Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971 mandates a review of the Master Plan every 5 years. This was not taken up by the CMDA and the Tamil Nadu Government. The CMDA has forgotten to address changes due to climate change, urbanisation, and Chennai’s expansion. The failure of the Second Master Plan can be attributed to the involvement of various parastatal agencies for different aspects of governance. This distribution of responsibility prevents the realisation of the SMP as there is no coordination between agencies. Monitoring Committees that were formed under the SMP were “non-functional” from 2009 to 2012 and functioned poorly until 2016. The effective performance of these committees could have helped implement the plan better through public interaction and consultation.
Urban development for the urban poor outlined the Master Plan is beyond the provision of social housing. It involves the improvement of people's capacities within the urban sphere. In an era marked by rural to urban migration, it is important to include people and their livelihoods into the planning of urban habitat. Despite outlining strategies to protect and include the environment and the poor, Chennai has failed to provide inclusive development to its citizens. A third master plan is being drawn to expand the CMDA area from 1,189 sq.km to 8,878 sq.km. If the CMDA has been unable to cater to the needs of the urban poor in the SMP, how is it expected to do so after an eightfold expansion?
1 Government of Tamil Nadu, “Directorate of Town and Country Planning, Government of Tamil Nadu,” Government Website, Directorate of Town and Country Planning, accessed September 30, 2018, http://www.tn.gov.in/tcp/plan_preparation.htm.
2. “Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) Master Plan 2026 – Volume 1 (Vision, Strategies and Action Plans),” Master Plan, CMDA Second Master Plan (Chennai Corporation, September 2006), http://opencity.in/documents/chennai-metropolitan-development-authority-cmda-master-plan-2026-volume-1.
6. Elangovan, K. “Advocate Commissioner Report for Writ Petition 13128 of 2017.” Advocate Commissioner Report. Chennai: Government of India, 2018.
7. “India Smart City Profile - Chennai,” India Smart City Profile - Chennai (Chennai: Government of India), accessed September 30, 2018, http://smartcities.gov.in/upload/uploadfiles/files/TamilNadu_Chennai.pdf.
8. “Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) Master Plan 2026 – Volume 1 (Vision, Strategies and Action Plans),” Master Plan, CMDA Second Master Plan (Chennai Corporation, September 2006), http://opencity.in/documents/chennai-metropolitan-development-authority-cmda-master-plan-2026-volume-1.
9. This is meant for slums residing in unobjectionable locations.
10. “Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) Master Plan 2026 – Volume 1 (Vision, Strategies and Action Plans),” Master Plan, CMDA Second Master Plan (Chennai Corporation, September 2006), http://opencity.in/documents/chennai-metropolitan-development-authority-cmda-master-plan-2026-volume-1.
11. “Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) Master Plan 2026 – Volume 2 (Development Regulations),” Master Plan, CMDA Second Master Plan (Chennai Corporation, September 2006), http://opencity.in/documents/chennai-metropolitan-development-authority-cmda-master-plan-2026-volume-1.
12. Aloysius Xavier Lopez, “Few Takers for Development Rights Certificates,” The Hindu, June 2, 2018, sec. Chennai, https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/few-takers-for-development-rights-certificates/article24069626.ece.
14. “FAQ on the JnNURM and the RAY: Why Might This Impact Your Lives?” (Chennai: Transparent Chennai, October 2013), http://www.transparentchennai.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2013/10/FAQ%20on%20the%20JNNURM%20and%20RAY%20English.pdf.
15. “Summary Analysis of Slum Policies in Chennai and Their Implementation” (Transparent Chennai, 2013).
16. Elangovan, K. “Advocate Commissioner Report for Writ Petition 13128 of 2017.” Advocate Commissioner Report. Chennai: Government of India, 2018.
18. Government of Tamil Nadu, “The Tamil Nadu Protection of Tanks and Eviction of Encroachment Act, 2007,” Pub. L. No. Act 8 of 2007 (2007).
19. Report No.4 of 2017 - Performance Audit of Flood Management and Response in Chennai and Its Suburban Areas Government of Tamil Nadu,” Report Type: Performance (Comptroller Auditor General of India, September 7, 2017), https://cag.gov.in/content/report-no4-2017-performance-audit-flood-management-and-response-chennai-and-its-suburban.
21. Karen Coelho, “Placing The Poor In The Flood Path: Post-Disaster Slum Resettlement In Chennai,” The Caravan, January 4, 2016, http://www.caravanmagazine.in/vantage/placing-the-poor-in-the-flood-pat…
22. Anand Kumar, “South India’s Drought Part 2: Chennai Slum Dwellers Forced to Beg for Water, Authorities Remain Helpless,” Firstpost, February 5, 2017, https://www.firstpost.com/india/south-indias-drought-part-2-chennai-slum-dwellers-forced-to-beg-for-water-authorities-remain-helpless-3396134.html.
24. Report No.4 of 2017 - Performance Audit of Flood Management and Response in Chennai and Its Suburban Areas Government of Tamil Nadu,” Report Type: Performance (Comptroller Auditor General of India, September 7, 2017), https://cag.gov.in/content/report-no4-2017-performance-audit-flood-management-and-response-chennai-and-its-suburban.
25. Yogesh Kabirdoss, “CMDA to Appoint Consultant to Prepare Third Master Plan for Chennai - Times of India,” The Times of India, May 25, 2018, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/cmda-to-appoint-consultant-to-prepare-third-master-plan-for-chennai/articleshow/64312241.cms.