Urban management issues are increasingly becoming important for sustaining economic activities in the country and widely affect the quality of life of urban citizens. Given the pace of its growth, Chennai is facing challenges of rapid urbanisation like many other cities around the world.

Various stakeholders—residents of the city, employers across the entire range of industries, small and medium firms, bodies like Rotary, industry associations, NGOs and community organizations—are acutely aware of the challenges that the city faces on its infrastructure like traffic and transportation.  These groups of institutions and individuals have demonstrated a clear commitment to the city over several years. Collectively, they also have the technical capacity and commitment to ensure that various government initiatives are successful. The challenge is to harness these collective energies onto a single platform that can make the whole larger than the sum of the parts.

Chennai City Connect (CCC) is an initiative specifically meant to play this role, by bringing various urban stakeholders outside government together onto a single platform. This also helps government respond in a constructive, collaborative manner to the voices coming from outside government, and create value-added partnerships. The aim of CCC is, among other things, to assist governmental agencies by providing the knowledge base and support to help the development on urban infrastructure and services.

Our Mission

The traditional approach of various city stakeholders to burgeoning urban issues has been that of sporadic and sometimes one-off interventions. This ranges from confronting the government on an urban management issue to small philanthropic measures such as adopting schools, colleges, police stations, building road segments etc. There is a frustration that persists because of a lack of “Big Picture” engagement and being shut out of the actual decision making process. However, there is desire amongst various city stakeholders to contribute to both short term and long term measures and a willingness to put long term platforms into place which help tackle the urban challenges comprehensively.

City Connect has been formed to create this common platform for all city stakeholders to constructively engage with various government agencies on the city’s planning and implementation process. Our approach is hinged on the following beliefs:

  • It is essential for various city stakeholders outside the government to work in a coordinated manner and represent themselves in a single voice
  • It is essential to have a formal relationship and clear role for engagement with government agencies. It is important however to ensure that this does not distort the existing political / decentralized system
  • It is essential to play a role that adds value to the system. Our aim is to assist government agencies by providing the knowledge base and support to help the development on urban infrastructure.

City Connect brings value at 3 levels by working with various government agencies responsible for urban infrastructure:

Strategic Inputs – Many of the strategic choices faced by government (on policies, large scale projects such as right location for a ring road around city, PPP initiatives etc.) are complex in nature. We can enable the right decisions by providing complete technical resources and capacities necessary for making the right choices.

Project Inputs – Many urban infrastructure projects involve not just 1 or 2 agencies but a multiple of government agencies working with their own priorities. We can enable detailing of a project in the most appropriate manner through taking a holistic view of project planning and enabling better co-ordination amongst various government agencies.

Implementation Inputs – As a group of diverse stakeholders, we can bring together multiple skills to ensure time-bound implementation of critical projects.

Area for Inputs – Potentially we can help government agencies in providing good quality of service to urban citizens in traffic and transportation, affordable housing, water, sewage, e-governance, city services to poor like food, education, insurance and other inclusive growth related issues, city management, land use and other urban infrastructure and services.

Our Vision

Transform Chennai into a world-class city that provides great quality of service and infrastructure to all its citizens.


Our Regional Vision

Most major cities (Chennai included) are experiencing rapid urbanization. The quality of life for citizens across the socio economic spectrum is in decline. Challenges in provisioning water supply, sanitation, public transport, health, education impacts all citizens, particularly those in the economically weaker sections.

Broadly, two development routes exist for improving Chennai. One, we can tinker with improving public service delivery by working on select initiatives for Chennai city. This could marginally impact the living conditions. Any limited success will draw more migrants into Chennai stretching the city’s physical and social infrastructure. The current ‘creeping’ Chennai expansion model is leading to haphazard development patterns. This is likely to lead to lasting long term problems in managing increased citizen aspirations and needs.

The alternate route is to envision the future and develop Chennai, including surrounding towns and villages, in a holistic manner. The vision is to take a Regional Perspective and integrate nearby towns with Chennai based on a hub and spokes model, with Chennai as the hub and towns like Marakonam, Arakonam and Pulicat (MAP) as spokes. These towns, among others, should be linked to Chennai with high-speed rail and road transport corridors.

MAP area is around 5000 sq kms, spreads over five districts and encompasses urban and rural areas. As shown in the diagram below, this area is already home to numerous industrial cultural and socio-economic clusters. Connecting these clusters and towns to Chennai and its engines of growth can produce tremendous benefits to all citizens in the MAP region. This will also facilitate government, industry and social organisations to develop these and future clusters into respective centres of excellence. This approach has the potential to check unplanned growth of Chennai and encourage ‘live and work’ clusters in the region. Also, it will distribute future prosperity over a larger geographical area and empower local citizens in the region.

Infrastructure connectivity will have to be complemented with appropriate governance structure that allows for decentralized jurisdictional authorities to function under a common framework, aligned for achieving the vision.

The vision of MAP complements and facilitates Vision 2011 – The New Industrial Policy 2007, Government of Tamil Nadu which states:

  • To create an additional 2 million jobs by 2011.
  • To raise contribution to GSDP from manufacturing sector from 21% to 27% by 2011.
  • To double Tamil Nadu annual exports to Rs 140,000 crores.
  • To raise Tamil Nadu to a position of pre-eminence in innovation and high technology.
  • To raise the competitiveness and efficiency of small and medium enterprises and agro based industries for increasing value addition and giving better income to the farmers.

Key features of MAP

  • High-speed rail and road (8 lane provision) transport corridor connecting 8-10 nodes (including C-MAP).
  • Sustainable communities encompassing places of work, stay and assembly
  • Clusters of economic activity and livelihood possibilities (with appropriate skill training) for the local communities.
  • Proactive physical and social infrastructure provisioning.
  • Ability to attract private capital for the regional development plan through enabling frameworks for Public Private Participation (PPP).

Significant benefits to the MAP approach

  • Transportation network connecting C-MAP cities and towns will enable them to develop and thereby become catalyst for surrounding rural areas.
  • Will ease the growing pressures on Chennai given the ‘magnetic’ nature of Chennai due to the current economic growth model.
  • Sustainable clusters can develop across MAP region. Local communities in these clusters will be beneficiaries of regional development by having a stake in the local development. This will benefit local citizens by providing greater economic opportunities to leverage local comparative advantage.
  • Provide catalyst for industry to provide skill development initiatives.
  • Greater scope for meeting local aspirations within this distributed development model in contrast to focusing only on a greater Chennai.
  • MAP will benefit all sections of society, particularly the economically and socially disadvantaged, with greater opportunity to participate in overall development.
  • With a regional governance structure and conducive public policy, private capital through PPP can fund regional development.

Chennai City Connect in coordination with all its members will play an active role in making the MAP vision a reality. This will include developing comprehensive regional master plan, taking into account current and future demographics, energy use and other key growth and development indicators, with the following key points as objectives.

  • Provide social and physical infrastructure.
  • Execution of the master plan strategy in phased manner for period of 15-20 years.
  • Address need of decongesting Chennai city.
  • Create opportunity for 3 lakhs houses in the MAP area.
  • 200km corridor to attract FDIs to the tune of $15B and other investments.
  • Connects 20 blocks in MAP area creating rural business hubs.
  • Hubs to disseminate knowledge to the rural areas and improve skills of labour force.
  • Assurance of 24X7 power supply, water supply and maintained sewerage system.
  • Generate 7.2M jobs, both skilled and unskilled in MAP area.
  • High-speed internet connectivity to ensure E-governance among the 20 blocks.
  • Create area of high employment opportunities for all classes of people.
  • Conservation of wetlands for agriculture and exploiting under utilized dry lands for development.
  • Establish and build capacity of regional planning authority and governance structure to accommodate multiple districts, urban-rural belts.
  • Dynamic and flexible master plan to meet emergent needs of the region.
  • Fair and transparent land acquisition with adequate and innovative rehabilitation measures.
  • Clarity in PPP policy and implementation.
  • Plan for infrastructure road map for long term with roll out based on demand.
  • Implement road and transport grid connectivity within region, particularly with and within Chennai.
  • Truly inclusive plan with special focus on the under privileged in terms of infrastructure, skill training, livelihood, etc.

Our Team


  • Gopal Srinivasan, CMD, TVS Capital Funds Ltd
  • Lakshmi Narayanan, Vice Chairman, Cognizant Technology Solutions

Executive Council

  • Prakash Challa, MD, SSPDL Group
  • Varun Manian, Director, NAPC Ltd
  • M M Murugappan, Chairman, Tube Investments of India Ltd
  • Lakshmi Narayanan, Vice Chairman, Cognizant Technology Solutions
  • Ramesh Mangaleswaran, Director, McKinsey & Company
  • G R K Reddy, CMD, MARG Ltd
  • Gopal Srinivasan, CMD, TVS Capital Funds Ltd
  • V Sumantran, Executive Vice Chairman, Hinduja Automotive Limited
  • K Venugopal, Joint Editor, Business Line
  • Nicholas, MD, Michelin India

Our Organization

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Tamil Nadu took the initiative to develop sustainable solutions for urban governance and entered into a MoU with Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship & Democracy (JCCD) as knowledge partner.

Janaagraha has undertaken pioneering work in evangelising urban governance solutions in the Indian context and has been an advocate of an inclusive platform of industry, government and civil society players to address issues in urban India.

A workshop of corporate leaders and thought leaders in strategic, business and urban issues was organized on January 5-6, 2007 in Bangalore to explore new ways for the corporate sector to engage with urban governance. Attended by about leading 40 CEOs in Bangalore and chaired by C.K. Prahalad, the outcome of these deliberations is captured in this document, as the Bangalore Urban Declaration. A consensus emerging out of the urban conclave was that the path to improving our cities would take sustained effort and patience to take us through the stages of transformation – initiation, mobilisation and collaborative action to eventually result in sustainable change.

In September 2007, Chennai City Connect platform was launched. At the event, the first branch of Janaagraha outside Bangalore was officially launched in Chennai.  A MoU was signed between CII and Janaagraha on Knowledge Partnership on urban governance.