TN CM revives ‘Singara Chennai’ project, sets up 6 new corporations
The DMK government on Tuesday elaborated plans to revive its pet project Singara Chennai (beautiful Chennai), while also announcing six new corporations ahead of the local body elections.
While the revised budget estimates presented on August 13 allocated ₹500 crores for Singara Chennai 2.0, the municipal administration and water supply (MAWS) minister K N Nehru tabled a demand for grants in the ongoing session. Nehru also announced that six municipalities will be upgraded to corporations by merging adjoining developed areas, which are Tambaram, Kancheepuram, Kumbakonam, Karur, Cuddalore and Sivakasi. He also announced several infrastructures and developmental schemes and projects.
After the DMK won in the 1996 elections, coinciding with the IT boom, M K Stalin, who was then the mayor of the capital city, rolled out a slew of projects to keep the city clear of garbage and spruce it up with road infrastructure like flyovers under the ‘Singara Chennai’ umbrella. In the 2.0 edition, the aim is to continue with clean and green, but the focus is also to take advantage of the city’s coastline, culture and lifestyle. In 2011, Chennai city expanded to an area of 426 square kilometres. “There are gaps in the infrastructure/development in the added areas,” the policy stated. There are about ten subheads for the vision of Singara Chennai 2.0.
The project plans include a Chennai that’s free from posters and litter, biomining two of the largest dumping grounds in the city and converting them to green spaces, water tap and sewerage connection to every household and access to ‘quality toilets’. To promote a healthy lifestyle, non-motorised transport will be encouraged. Footpaths that are usable for children, people with disabilities and senior citizens will be constructed. Learning centres for school going children who do not have adequate space at home for studying will come up. Cultural events such as ‘Chennai Day’ and ‘Chennai Sangamam’ will be promoted.
Chennai, which is home to several heritage buildings, will be preserved. The seat of the Greater Chennai Corporation, which will be responsible for much of Singara Chennai 2.0, is itself a heritage building called the Ripon buildings, an Indo-Saracenic structure built in 1913.
Those working on the project say that the new government’s vision for 2.0 is to match up to global cities. “There is a fundamental change where now climate change and resilience are important factors,” said an official of the Chennai Smart City project who did not wish to be named.
Nehru said that the government will implement an urban wage employment programme, on a pilot basis, to employ urban poor by engaging them in the creation and maintenance of public assets like parks, stormwater drains, roads, buildings and rejuvenation of water bodies, with 39 an initial budgetary allocation of ₹100 crores made in the Revised Budget Estimates for the year 2021-22.
Following Nehru’s announcement of new corporations, the total number of municipal corporations in Tamil Nadu has now increased from 15 to 21. The upgrade is expected to improve civic infrastructure facilities in the places that are severely flooded during monsoons. The announcement comes ahead of the local body polls in the state, but the minister clarified that the tenure of ward members will continue. The Supreme Court has ordered the Tamil Nadu state election body to complete the rural local body polls in nine newly created districts before September 15. Elections to urban local bodies were last held in October 2011 and after their five-year tenure was over issues over delimitation of wards arose and stalled the elections. However, elections to 27 rural local bodies were completed in 2019.