In yet another win for Maharashtra Government, the Bombay High Court has dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by ex-minister of Education Sadanand Varde challenging the rules of the Development Control Regulations (DCR) granting relaxation in terms of open space and height of a structure and also granting additional Floor Space Index (FSI).
The HC dismissed the PIL on Tuesday while upholding the arguments of the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Council (BMC) that the regulations were formulated by following proper procedure of law.
On Monday, the HC dismissed a PIL filed by NGO Janhit Manch and vacated the stay granted on release of Transfer of Development Right (TDR) in the corridor areas of the western and eastern suburbs.
The DCR 64(b) grants powers to the BMC commissioner to condone violations of the rules and collect premium by levying fine on developers or builders. Varde’s PIL challenged the powers granted to the commissioner alleging that the discretionary power is being rampantly misused to condone deficiency in open spaces.
The city is already starved of open space and over burdened in terms of basic amenities like water and power supply and drainage and sewerage disposal system and granting such relaxations adds additional burden on the existing infrastructure. The planners have formulated the DCR and amendments therein without giving much thought about the city’s infrastructure.
Advocate General Ravi Kadam had argued that the DCR was framed by the state government after following proper procedure of law. The state had also called for objections before framing it.
Property Redevelopers’ Association opposed the PIL stating that the DCR was framed by the state in order to implement the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act.
Their counsel Joaquin Reis contended that due to space constraint in the city, there’s not sufficient space to be left open at the time of construction or redevelopment of a building.
Besides, a similar PIL was dismissed by a division bench of the HC in 1992, added Reis.
Varde contended that the relaxations granted are starving the city of the required open spaces and of basic amenities like water and power supple, drainage and sewerage disposal system. Besides, the FSI should not exceed 1.33 as specified under DCR 32.
The BMC permits FSI upto 2.5 for construction of building for housing the homeless in the island city and FSI 4 is given for undertaking redevelopment work under Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority (Mhada).