It was an eventful, often rough, year for Chennai especially as the city faced severe water crisis in the summer. While the city grappled with this crisis, there was also cause for some cheer as the city saw the inauguration of the AG DMS-Washermanpet stretch of the metro, the opening up of the pedestrian plaza in T Nagar and several strides made in solid waste management.
As we step into the new year with hope and anticipation, here are some initiatives and projects that could be expected to take off this year.
Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS)
The Bus Rapid Transit System is a long-pending proposal that was revived in 2019 after widespread public consultations held by the transport department. The BRTS is a system that will seamlessly allow buses to ply through the city in dedicated corridors, free of other vehicular traffic.
The proposed BRTS corridor in its initial phase will cover 120 km in the city with existing bus stops in major roads covered under the scheme. The corridor will cut down travel time and make buses an attractive proposition for commute. The proposal also includes the procurement of 2000 BRTS compliant buses and changes to the ticketing system where riders procure tickets at the bus stops prior to the journey.
Public consultations were held across the city with inputs from various stakeholders. With the revival of the project and inputs from the public, BRTS could be a major game changer for public transport in Chennai in 2020.
Airport expansion; international terminal to be ready
The much-delayed Phase I of the expansion of Chennai airport is set to be completed around September 2020. The new terminal that will be inaugurated will handle international traffic. The need for new terminals and a possible second airport was felt as the traffic exceeded what it was designed to handle, by 7 million passengers!
While funds for the proposed airport expansion was sanctioned in 2018, there have been several delays due to the nature of the terrain in the area that the expansion was proposed to be carried out in. On the inauguration of the new phases, the older terminals will be demolished.
The fully integrated, upgraded airport is set to be on course for inauguration in 2022.
Fifth water reservoir for the city
With the city just recovering from the effects of the worst water crisis it has seen in decades, the much delayed fifth reservoir could see the light of day in 2020. The city’s four reservoirs Poondi, Cholavaram, Red Hills and Chembarambakkam all ran dry over the course of the summer, resulting in extreme water shortage.
Though the crisis was wrought by a deficit monsoon, the need for a fifth reservoir has been felt for many years now. The reservoir in Thervoykandigai was commissioned in 2013 but there has been a six year delay due to issues faced in land acquisition and poor pace of construction. While the reservoir was expected to be functional before the onset of northeast monsoon this year, the authorities announced a possible delay of four months. The expectation currently is that the long wait will end in 2020, helping Chennai move towards water security in the coming years.
Metro to expand in North Chennai
North Chennai will get metro access when the nine stations under Phase 1 extension are opened in June 2020. The line will connect Wimco Nagar to key hubs such as CMBT, Central Railway Station and Airport. The stations in the extended line will cover Washermanpet, Korukkupet, Theagaraya College, Tondiarpet, Tollgate, Thangal, Gowri Ashram and Thiruvottriyur. This is expected to reduce commute time from Airport to Thiruvottriyur to under an hour.
A set of ten trains to run along this line has been procured by the Chennai Metro Rail Limited and are expected to arrive here in February 2020 for testing. The testing process may take up to a month. Phase 1 extension is set to add an additonal 9 km to the existing metro rail network in the city.
Chennai’s parking woes could ease in 2020 with the Chennai Corporation launching a smart parking app, under which more slots for parking are set to be added across the city. Currently, 3000 slots are active, with another 7500 slots set to be added from South and Central Chennai and along Marina beach.
Charges will be levied on four-wheelers and two-wheelers on an hourly basis for use of the slots. Four-wheelers will be charged Rs 20 an hour while two-wheelers will be charged Rs 5 an hour. Certain streets designated as premium parking locations will see the charges doubled. This move will help decongest the city’s streets and yield additional revenue. The charges will also nudge people towards public transport.
Chennai has grand plans for revamping its waste management with a push towards a decentralised system. With this in mind, the Chennai Corporation has set up material recovery facilities and micro-composting centers for dry and wet waste at various spots. Compost pits have been set up in neighbourhood parks for leaf waste and nano composting methods are being tested for biodegradable waste.
With concerted efforts in reducing bins on roads, enforcing bulk waste generation rules, pushing for source segregation and door-to-door collection of waste, the civic body has begun to make inroads in laying the groundwork for a decentralised system across the city. In the coming year, more such efforts and focus can be expected in reducing waste that reaches landfills and recycling and composting of waste.