CHENNAI: The general public was not consulted before Chennai corporation took up major projects, including the Perambur flyover and some railway over-bridges, according to the latest Comptroller and Auditor-General report on local bodies for the year ended March 2011. The projects were approved based on a 2006 plan prepared without consulting the public.
According to Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission ( JNNURM) guidelines, a civic body seeking funds should prepare a city development plan (CDP) which should focus on the vision and proposals for future development. “Local bodies should review and analyze the current status of the city and its state of development. They should identify strengths and weaknesses in the city’s development and bring out the features that distinguish the city from others,” it said.
The CAG noted that records of the Madurai municipal corporation (MMC) revealed that the Chennai corporation had conducted only one stakeholders meeting in 2006 to prepare the report. “Of the 49 participants, 29 were government officials and 12 were ward councillors. Four members of the public and 4 members of NGOs made up the rest,” it said.
The CDP was prepared initially by the civic body in April 2006, without holding proper stakeholders meetings, the report said. This was reported by the Administrative Staff College in Hyderabad, the appraisal authority for CDPs, once in May 2006 and in October 2006. The corporation revised its CDP in September 2009 by engaging a consultant and ensuring stakeholders participation, said the report. However, projects sanctioned between March 2007 and February 2009, were based on the CDP submitted in 2006.
CHENNAI: Empty rakes of metro rail trains will operate several times over the elevated Koyambedu-St Thomas Mount line for six months during trials before the project is commissioned in mid-2014.
With construction progressing rapidly along the stretch, the government has announced a deadline for the commissioning. “Chennai metro rail project is likely to be commissioned in three stages from mid-2014 and will be completed by 2015-end, finance minister O Panneerselvam told the state assembly on Wednesday.
“About 75% of construction relating to elevated viaducts and stations, 55% of the Koyambedu depot and 35% of underground stations and associated tunnels has been completed till March last,” he said. CMRL plans to ensure integration with bus, suburban rail, MRTS and monorail services to help passengers move from one mode of transport to another seamlessly.
A senior metro rail official said “Extensive trials will be conducted along the elevated line before services are opened to traffic. The trains will keep running along the line after construction is completed in December. People will be able to see the trains.”
The trials will act as a showpiece. The service will be a fillip to commuters, linking MRTS and suburban trains at St Thomas Mount and mofussil buses at CMBT. The Little Mount-Airport line is expected to be commissioned by end-2014.
As the deadline nears, metro rail has begun discussions with different agencies to fix fares for the services.
With the city’s rapid growth taking a toll on road infrastructure, the state government decided to introduce metro rail as a new rail-based rapid transport system. It is aimed at providing a fast, reliable, convenient and economical mode of public transport, strategically integrated with other existing forms of public and private transport services as well as with future systems, including monorail transport.
Under the CMRL, two corridors have been taken up for implementation, based on the detailed project report prepared by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited. The corridors – from Washermenpet to Chennai Airport and form Chennai Central to St Thomas Mount via Koyambedu – will cover 23.1km and 22km respectively.
CHENNAI: Real estate firm PBEL Property Development today said it plans to invest Rs 1,500 crore over the next 2-3 years on its upcoming project in the city.
“So far, PBEL has invested close to Rs 250 crore in Chennai and intends to invest additional Rs 1,500 crore in multiple phases over the coming years”, PBEL Property Development India MD Surya Reddy told reporters here.
PBEL Property Development is a joint venture between Israel-based real estate company PBC and Electra Real Estate Ltd along with Hyderabad-based Incor Infrastructure.
On the company’s upcoming project PBEL City Chennai, on the Old Mahabalipuram Road (IT Corridor), he said it would be spread on 42 acres and would have sports and fitness amenities, among others.
The township offers apartments ranging between 1,033 sq ft and 1,733 sq ft and the first phase would have five towers with a single bedroom block.
The project was planned to be completed in five phases, he said.
“The real estate sector in Chennai is growing and we expect to see further development in it,” he added.
CHENNAI: The proposed Chennai-Bangalore industrial corridor has got a fillip with the state-run SIPCOT (State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu) completing a study along with other consultants for the development of highways along Chennai-Sriperumbudur-Ranipet-Hosur, Madurai-Thoothukudi and Coimbatore-Salem.
“After the study, it was proposed to create industrial parks in the Madurai-Thoothukudi corridor to develop the backward southern districts for increased economic growth,” state industries minister, P Thangamani said.
Meanwhile, Karnataka has also started the process of DPR (detailed projects report) for the peripheral ring road (PRR) project between Tumkur and Hosur. This road will be in the proposed Chennai-Bangalore corridor. In December 2012, the Karnataka state cabinet cleared the first phase of the 65 km PRR project between Tumkur and Hosur at a cost Rs 1,750 crore. The Chennai-Bangalore corridor is being modeled along the proposed $100 billion Delhi-Mumbai (DMIC) industrial corridor.
In his budget address, Union finance minister P Chidambaram had said the project with assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) would be developed in collaboration with the governments of three southern states. JICA and the Union government’s department of industrial policy and promotion are preparing a master plan for the corridor. “The corridor will be developed in collaboration with the governments of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka,” Chidambaram had said. While the existing road connecting Chennai and Bangalore is 350 kms long, there is a proposal to cut the distance by 100 kms with new roads
Also, the NPAR (northern port access road) project, an integrated project to strengthen connectivity to the Ennore Port, is being implemented jointly by the state highways department, SIPCOT and TNRDC (Tamil Nadu Road Development Company). “Industrial parks will be set up abutting the NPAR to an extent of about 10000 to 15000 acres,” Thangamani said.
CHENNAI: Chennai may be one of the few cities to have a mayor elected directly for a five-year term, but lack of urban facilities and planning bring it down. Its citizens scored Chennai higher than most on empowered and legitimate political representation but among the worst on urban planning and design and capabilities and resources.
In its first Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems , conducted by Bangalore-based NGO Janaagraha, 11 cities were assessed on four parameters — urban planning and design, urban capacities and resources, empowered and legitimate political representation , and transparency, accountability and participation. These cities were compared with New York and London as the international benchmarks.
Chennai comes in second from the bottom with a score of 2.2 on 10 for urban planning and design (Pune with 0.7 is last) because of the lack of monitoring of sub-local and neighbourhood planning. With the exception of Delhi, no city has Ward Development Plans. The absence of guaranteed land titling, weak institutional structures such as lack of single base map across civic agencies and lack of authority of urban local bodies for approving land-use change are factors that account for weak urban planning and design, the survey says.
However, the fact that the mayor is elected for a five-year term has raised the score for political representation , with Chennai being only one of three cities in the country with a mayor who is directly elected. Transparency, accountability and participation gets a score of 2.9. Most cities fare very poorly in the realm of public accountability due to the absence of a local government ombudsman , and audit mechanisms.
Rapid urbanization has forced government agencies to look for quick-fix measures to meet the growing infrastructure demand. But little attention is being paid to sustainable development of cities, which are seeing a surge in migrant population. Besides Delhi, the only cities focusing on sustainable development are Kolkata, Jaipur and Hyderabad, says the survey. Delhi and Kolkata are the only cities that have made a provision for ward development plans and metropolitan planning committees, respectively.
“These are crucial to sustainable development of cities. The city system in Surat and Ahmedabad, which have witnessed massive development in the last decade, is not ready for the future,” said Srikanth Vishwanathan of Janaagraha. India needs to learn from New York and London where emphasis is on planned development, says the survey. While assessing the cities on 107 pointers – divided under four main heads – the survey found that a majority of local bodies faced a serious fund problem and that the political leadership was not strong enough to get the work done. Jaipur was ranked first in terms of political leadership, but due to lack of resources and planning , no major work could be executed. “What is the point of having a strong leadership without any resources. There is a need to decentralize power, especially financial, and empower local bodies. Civic agencies need to widen their tax base so that they can spend more funds,” said Vishwanathan. Indian cities need to learn from New York where the capital expenditure per capita is 21,322 (London 15,177) compared to Delhi’s 2,316, Mumbai’s 4,079 and Chennai’s low 1,000. The survey also looked at quality of life. “We checked with people on what they think about the cities. Transportation and clean drinking water were the prime concerns. While Surat and Ahmedabad were rated as the best cities, Kanpur was described as the worst. When it comes to transparency, other cities have a lot to learn from Hyderabad, which is the only city to have area sabhas,” said Swati Ramanathan, cofounder of Janaagraha.
CHENNAI: To facilitate a smooth ride for thousands of people hitting the IT corridor everyday, the Tamil Nadu government has announced an elevated corridor along the 45km Old Mahabalipuram Road. It would be the country’s longest such corridor, much longer than the Hyderabad airport-city link which is 11.6km.
Chief minister J Jayalalithaa said the government would soon prepare a detailed project report. The announcement comes at a time when the 19km Chennai Port-Maduravoyal elevated corridor, being built by NHAI, is stalled because of the objections raised by the state government.
Jayalalithaa made a slew of announcements in the assembly on road infrastructure development, including on multi-level vehicle parking at Siruseri, rail over- bridges and road widening projects estimated to cost 2,000 crore.
The elevated corridor would be built in two phases, from Taramani to Siruseri and Siruseri to Mammallapuram. “This is to decongest the chaotic traffic emanating from the large number of IT firms, multi-storied buildings and educational institutions along this road. 5 crore will be allocated for the detailed project report,” she said. The IT corridor was initiated by Jayalalithaa during her earlier tenure.
The 45km long stretch starts at Madhya Kailash Temple junction on Sardar Patel Road and ends on East Coast Road, parallel to the Old Mahabalipuram Road. The prestigious TIDEL park is also located on this road.
CHENNAI: The corporation on Monday presented a Rs 3,630-crore budget with a deficit of Rs 1.1 crore. It expects to earn Rs 780 crore from taxes, including property and professional taxes.
The size of the corporation budget was Rs 2,922 crore in 2012-13. There has been an increase of Rs 707 crore this year.
Despite the law saying the corporation should revise property taxes every five years, the civic body has not hiked it since 1998. As a result, its revenue is the lowest among the corporations of the six metros. This year, it has collected Rs 370 crore against its target of Rs 558 crore.
A corporation official said, “It is a challenge for us to generate funds for development. If we fail to find money, it will reflect on our major projects. Some projects could not be completed as there has been a drop in tax collection. So we will give priority to tax collection.”
Records show that the number of tax payers in the city has increased from 6.5 lakh to 10.82 lakh after the expansion of the city. The civic body has not revised the property tax in the old limits.
“The revision of property tax is held up due to political reasons. The only option is to increase collection,” said a senior corporation official. In a bid to increase tax collection, the civic body will introduce collection counters in each of the 200 wards.
CHENNAI: The dream of being able to walk from T Nagar bus de pot to Mambalam railway station in less than 10 minutes may become reality. The corporation has announced allotment of money to study the possibility of building skywalks at T Nagar and Parry’s Corner.
Urban planning consultants Jones Lang LaSalle last year had suggested a 600km skywalk connecting T Nagar bus depot and the train station to reduce the number of pedestrians on Ranganathan Street and autos at Madley Road subway. The skywalks will have elevators.
The corporation believes that the only way to deter shoppers from bringing their cars from other parts of the city is to make usage of public transport comfortable. “We found that people come to Ranganathan Street and take autos from South Usman Road to the depot and take buses to Chengalpet, Sriperambudur and Mamallapuram,” said an official. The facility could cost Rs 10 crore.
Residents say this promise, like many others, is likely to remain on paper. “The proposal was made a year ago. If it is implemented, it would be good,” said K Divya, a resident of Singara Street.
The other skywalk will be in Parry’s, allowing commuters to cross from North Beach Road to NSC Bose Road, which has Madras high court and Burma Bazaar. “Advocates, litigants traders and professionals get off at Beach Station and work on NSC Bose Road,” said an official.
CHENNAI: The city corporation will study the possibility of building four new flyovers and five pedestrian subways, mayor Saidai Duraisamy said, while presenting the civic body’s budget for 2013-2014 on Monday. Feasibility studies would be done to check the viability of the projects.
One flyover is planned at the TTK Road-St Marys Road-Chamiers Road junction near Hotel Park Sheraton to reduce congestion. Flyovers have also been proposed at Arcot Road-Kaliamman Koil Street junction near Koyambedu, at Kodambakkam High Road-Thirumalai Pillai Road-Valluvar Kottam High Road junction in Nungambakkam, and at Madhya Kailash junction in Adyar.
Pedestrian subways have been proposed under N S K Salai near Meenakshi Engineering College, and near Vadapalani bus depot, on Kamarajar Salai, at Dr Radhakrishnan Salai junction and on Purusawalkam High Road.
The Alwarpet flyover is likely to be right-angled, beginning on Chamiers Road turning left on to TTK Road and ending at St Mary’s Road junction. The junction connects commuters from RA Puram, Adyar, OMR, Guindy and beyond to Nungambakkam, Chetpet, Anna Nagar and beyond. It is also an alternative route from central Chennai to the airport when Anna Salai is jammed.
The flyover at Madhya Kailash junction was suggested in 2007-08, but had to be dropped because CLRI refused to give up land. The new one is likely to begin at Thiruvi-ka bridge and run to Kotturpuram bridge, over Buckingham Canal. This removes the problem of land acquisition. A flyover will be built from Arcot Road to Kaliamman Koil Street, which connects Koyambedu with Kodambakkam. The fourth at Valluvar Kottam is likely to be three-armed and allow commuters from Dr MGR Salai to drive to Thirumullai Pillai Road directly.
The four new flyovers will be in addition to the 13 existing ones and four more that are coming up. The corporation proposed seven flyovers last year, of which three were shelved due to metro rail construction and inability to find consultants. The other four are on track.
However, transport experts do not believe that flyovers are the solution to traffic congestion. “Creating space for private motor vehicles is a never-ending problem,” says Shreya Gadepalli, regional director of Institute of Transport and Development Policy. “Any flyover will get overwhelmed in a few years,” she said.
Commuters welcome the opportunity to skip a signal. “I pick and drop my children at AMM school. If I don’t have to share road space with commuters going to Alwarpet I can save time,” said Jayashree P, a resident of Greenways Road.
CHENNAI: The Madras high court has reversed a clean chit given by a company court to actor R Vijayakumar in a forgery-cum-land deal case. By the time the company court absolved Vijayakumar of all criminal charges on January 6, 2011, a magistrate court in the city had examined 44 witnesses and 85 documents, and the trial was nearing completion.
On Friday, setting aside the clean chit that came at the fag end of a criminal trial, a division bench comprising Justice R Banumathi and Justice K K Sasidharan said: “The inherent jurisdiction given to the company court under Rule 9 of the Companies (Court) Rules, 1959, cannot be used to stifle valid prosecution launched against the accused. The actor, without disclosing the material facts, obtained an order absolving him from criminal liability.”
Vijayakumar had entered into an agreement with Anubhav Plantations promoter C Natesan in 1994 to sell 12.32 acres of land at Kazhipattur village in Kancheepuram. It later turned out that a certain portion of the property belonged to the government, documents for which had been given by officials in violation of rules. On finding prima facie evidence that land records had been fabricated, a single judge had ordered CB-CID probe, and a division bench had upheld the order.
The investigating officers had seized 85 documents and filed a chargesheet before the XI metropolitan magistrate in Saidapet. Meanwhile, the actor moved the company court, a single-judge-headed HC bench dealing with company cases, saying he had paid 20 lakh as full and final settlement to the company, which was under liquidation by then. The judge quashed the case.
The official liquidator and senior advocate M Ravindran, who is the administrator of the companies, challenged the company court order. Pointing out that a division bench had upheld the prosecution, they said the single judge had virtually overruled the bench.