May 19, 2016 will be a day to be remembered. Just when everyone was writing her political obituary, J Jayalalithaa won consecutive elections for the first time since 1984. Though the ‘Amma’ frenzy is all over the state, there is evident disappointment amongst investors, industrialists and real estate stakeholders. The last 5 years of her government weren’t great with Chennai real estate seeing a 13% drop in launches, with demand and sales down by 9%. So what do they want her to focus on this time around? We give you people’s wish list for the ‘Amma’ government.
1) Better roads and drains
The Chennai Corporation has spent nearly 4,500 crore on road construction and maintenance since 2011, but the quality remains poor. While main routes are constantly re-laid after careful inspection, it is the interior roads where violations are most observed. The Corporation needs to have a georeferenced map of storm-water drains, a database of roads and road contractors and hire them based on performance so that they can be held liable for any substandard work.
2) Chennai Needs A Metro
Delays in land acquisition, soil issues and non-performance of contractors are said to be the major reasons for the Chennai Metro Rail missing its deadline. But enough is enough. The metro rail network is estimated to cost Rs. 14,600 crore with stations spread over 45 Kilometers of the city. It is vital that this project is executed quickly, as it will help a cross-section of people using public transport every day, while easing traffic congestion on the roads, saving the city from being yet another Bengaluru in terms of traffic bottlenecks.
3) Urban Planners Needed
Chennai has been named as one of the smart cities, but does it even have the basics to become one? The tragic floods that struck in December showed that the archaic British laid sewage and storm-water drain system is inadequate to handle the city’s needs. An integrated sewage and storm-water drain system, along with elevated constructions and multi-level car parking is essential for the city to proof itself from similar disasters in the future. Experienced urban planners need to be brought in to ensure that this happens and that rampant and unplanned development is checked.
4) Chennai Must be Investment Friendly
The floods saw a number of IT firms and industries plunge into darkness, making the city lose its charm as an IT capital. Corporates have started looking at shifting their business to Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Chennai also faces stiff competition from Sri City, the industrial town of Andhra Pradesh, just 70 kms from Chennai, which is attracting a horde of industrial investments. Jayalalithaa must focus on reviving the manufacturing sector, bringing in more IT industries and providing employment opportunities, to ensure that Chennai continues to grow and be regarded as investment friendly.
5) Greater Government Engagement Required
Accessibility to the chief minister or for that matter any civic official has been a big no-no so far. Industry participants say that must change. For Chennai to develop as a smart city; there must be greater engagement with the government to get clarity on desperately needed reforms, including receiving approvals in less than 60 days, adoption of the model by-laws and setting up of the state RERA committee.
The people of Tamil Nadu may have voted for Amma, but the long list of bad roads, a passive civic department, and long overdue projects like the metro rail have not been forgotten. The government needs to work on fixing these problems or risk Chennai deteriorating over the next few years.
Reporter : Smitha TK, NDTV
Web Editor : Nikhil Narayan Sivadas, NDTV