AARDE Foundation: URBAN ECOLOGY & RESILIENCE: A Case of Soaking City Chennai

AARDE Foundation: URBAN ECOLOGY & RESILIENCE: A Case of Soaking City Chennai

United Nation Habitat’s URBAN THINKERS CAMPUS
URBAN ECOLOGY & RESILIENCE: A Case of Soaking City Chennai
16-17 August, 09.30AM to 06.00PM, @ Raman Auditorium, Anna University, Chennai
18 August 2018, 09.30AM to 08.00PM – Exhibition at Public Space

The Tamil Nadu government has officially notified that the Chennai Metropolitan Area will increase from its current size of 1,189 sq.km to 8,878 sq.km, making it the largest city region in the country. The newly expanded area will include Kancheepuram, Thriuvallur Districts, and a part of Vellore region. The experience of cities across the country shows that a mere increase in the size of the urban region is no guarantee of better planning or improvement in the quality of life. The biggest challenge confronts the proposed expansion — will be environmental. Incorporating vast peripheral areas without adequate planning will lead to loss of environmental assets such as water-bodies that are essential for water management and prevention of urban floods. If unplanned, the addition of 1,700 villages, which is an opportunity to nurture urban agricultural practices, could pave the way for mindless urbanisation.

Chennai has a very unique ecological system, but least researched upon in detail. The uniqueness are:

  1. It is only metropolitan region depend on North East Monsoon. In India, Tamilnadu and coastal Andhra Pradesh are the region fully depend on North East Monsoon. N.E Monsoon is the most furious and damaging amongst all wind movement.
  2. Chennai Metropolitan region (and Coastal Tamilnadu) is the only metro region in India come under Tropical DRY Evergreen Region/Forest.
  3. Chennai and Coastal Tamilnadu are Wet-land based Eco System. Unlike, Western Ghats in SW Coast of India, South-East Coast of India has only Wetlands to attract rain clouds.
  4. Chennai has three important wetland (lagoons) and many small ponds/lakes as part of the Wet-Land Ecological System. On the North, Pulicat-Lagoon; in Middle, Pallikaranai Wetland, and in the South Kaliveli-Wetland-Complex.

Looking back to our past we realize that cities across the world have been carved out, both technologically and legally, from the amphibious territories that we called swamp, fens, bogs, marshes. Today these watery spaces threaten to claim back our cities. These amphibious territories alert us that cities are spaces where we have cultivated a dry culture of living, building and design by initially draining the swamps to create habitable lands. The Colonials from temperate climatic region taught us different planning and design methods ignoring tropical
vernacular principals. This lack of vernacular-thinking in our system is overtaking our cities and towns during a flood and natural calamity every year.