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Amrut facelift for George Town, heart of Old Madras
The New Indian Express  |  June 13, 2019

C Shivakumar Chennai

George Town, where Victorian buildings sit cheek by jowl with bustling markets and residential neighbourhoods, will soon be redeveloped under the pilot town planning scheme of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). Two locations from Chennai have been ed for the pilot project, second being 151 hectares of Agaramthen Village which falls under the St Thomas Panchayat Union.


The decision has come at a time when CMDA is planning to redevelop the area based on recommendations given by the Justice Rajeswaran Committee. Most of the buildings in George Town have structural irregularities and are not deemed safe. More than 60 per cent buildings in the area are over 50 years old. As a result, immediate attention is needed to ensure safety, says officials.


The George Town area identified for the pilot town planning scheme is bound by Basin Bridge Road on the North, Rajaji Salai on the East, North Fort Road and Periyar EVR Salai on the South and Wall Tax Road on the West.


Interestingly, the area ed for the pilot scheme is classified under different land use zones which include primary residential, mixed residential use zone, institutional and industrial use zones, as per the Second Masterplan Land Use Map.


It is learnt that once the proposal is cleared, the state government will have to amend the Town and Country Planning act as there are no provisions available under the act for formulation and implementation of the town planning scheme. It is learnt that Madras School of Economics will provide guidance in the preparation of business and economic profile of the George Town area.


Sources said a business and economy profile of George Town will be prepared to identify town planning interventions required for business development. This may include development of a logistics park or a financial hub to cater to banking, insurance and legal sectors.


It is learnt that a study was already commissioned by CMDA to formulate guidelines and evolve efficient measures to implement redevelopment projects in Chennai Metropolitan Area.  The guidelines are generally for the area redevelopment which involve demolition and reconstruction of private and government properties including reconstitution of plot and better circulation by way of new roads.


Meanwhile, a portion of Agaramthen village which lies within Tambaram taluk, is delineated for the pilot town planning scheme. The area is bound on the north by Madambakkam and Kaspapuram villages, on the east by Kovilanchaery and Maduraipakkam villages and on the West by Vengumbakkam village. The land identified is under agricultural and residential activities and the idea is to have planned expansion in the peri-urban areas. The idea of the pilots is to support value capture techniques to finance infrastructure investments.


George Town scan


  • During the colonial period, the area in and around Muthialpet in Madras was renamed as George Town by the British in 1911, in honour of King George V when he was crowned  Emperor


  • Town extends roughly from Chennai Central railway station and People’s Park in the west to the Bay of Bengal in the east. To the north is Basin Bridge and Royapuram while Fort St George bounds it on the South


  • George Town has high dense development with a density of 331 persons per hectare


  • Less than one per cent of buildings have been built without any violations