With Mamallapuram (aka Mahabalipuram) in the global news in the last three years, a facelift is planned for the historical port town. The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) plans to prepare a 20-year New Town Development Plan for the Mamallapuram New Town for the period 2025 to 2045. The development includes 25 villages with a total area of 123.48 sq km in the historical town of Mamallapuram (aka Mahabalipuram).

The port town came to limelight in October 2019 by hosting the informal meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It also hosted the prestigious Chess Olympiad in July 2022 and most recently was the venue for a number of G20 meetings.

The 15th Finance Commission in its report for the year 2021 – 2022 to 2025-26 emphasised the importance of both rejuvenation of old cities as well as the setting up of new cities. The project will be under the Urban Mobility and Spatial Development. A consulting firm is to be appointed to prepare the plan, according to a tender issued by CMDA.

New townscape

The Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi in January announced in the State Assembly that a satellite town is proposed to be created near Mamallapuram along East Coast Road, following the new growth cluster through a land pooling model by CMDA. Following this, the State government issued an order in August to notify Mamallapuram as a New Town Development area.

Mamallapuram in Chengalpattu district in the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, about 60 km south of Chennai, is an important port town dated back to the 7th century. It was developed as a key centre for artistic activity and architecture under the patronage of the Pallava rulers.

It was listed as one of the World Heritage Centres declared by UNESCO in 1984, recognising the heritage and cultural value of the historic buildings and monuments in the area. Mamallapuram was dotted with Seven pagodas, and the magnificent Shore temple is a major tourist attraction. Nearly, 8 million visitors visit Mamallapuram every year.

The development of Mamallapuram is in sync with that of the Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA). With the upgradation of ECR as a four-lane road that traverses this New Town, it is expected that more development will be attracted to this area.

Additionally, Mamallapuram presents rich maritime resources available, soon to be connected to the rail network by electric train, as well as to be served by an extension of the Metro rail in the near future. In this context, the notification of the Mamallapuram New Town is a timely action to enable a comprehensive planning framework for unleashing the growth potential and boosting development in the area, in a pattern that will benefit the local community and contribute to the integrated development of the whole CMA region, the tender document says.

The Proposed Mamallapuram New Town Planning area includes villages from Thirukazhukundram and Thiruporur Taluk.

The World Bank is providing support to the State government in designing and implementing the Urban Mobility and Spatial Development project. This has three components - strengthening integrated planning of infrastructure and service delivery; enhancing infrastructure and service implementation and accelerating sustainable urban mobility through innovative financing, the CMDA said.