Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ ambitious plan to expand Mumbai’s business districts and revitalise its financial hub tag seems to have hit a road block.
A year after the state government announced plans to set up a business district in Oshiwara on the lines of Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), planning authority Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has admitted there is no demand for commercial units in the proposed Oshiwara District Centre (ODC).
The lack of interest from commercial establishments in Oshiwara has now forced the state’s urban development department to modify its planning notification issued in November last year to grant commercial units Floor Space Index (FSI) of up to 4 in the area. The notification issued by the department last week said the MMRDA had written about the lack of interest from commercial units in May. It has now proposed a complete mixed user development in the area, routing much of the excess FSI for residential development.
FSI is an urban planning tool used by the state extensively to incentivise development. It refers to a ratio between the built-up area and the actual size of the plot and typically indicates how high a developer can build.
At the same time, Fadnavis’ pet project to set up the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) at BKC has encountered a hurdle with the Centre refusing to grant it a financial special economic zone (SEZ) tag without the requisite 50 hectares of land. The state government had requested the Ministry of Commerce to consider 50-hectares in built-up area instead of plot size to meet the minimum land requirement for financial SEZ status. After getting a rejection from the Centre, the government is now redrawing its BKC IFSC boundaries to include a green zone and recreation areas to reach the 50 hectare figure.
State government officials said the delay by the Centre to clear Mumbai’s proposal aims to give an advantage to Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), the country’s only designated IFSC and an approved financial SEZ. The officials claim GIFT will not get investors if there is another financial centre so close to it.
“We don’t expect this file to move for another year. We will get the tag eventually. In the meanwhile, we will prepare a master plan for BKC IFSC, we already have interested investors with BKC land being a goldmine,’’ said an official, closely associated with the IFSC project.
The notification on ODC has now proposed that 50% of FSI of up to 3 meant for residential buildings can be used for commercial units, while 50% of FSI of up to 4 meant for commercial units can now be used for residential blocks.
“Oshiwara will be developed as a business district. However, going by ground realities, we are mooting for mixed development. Even in BKC now, we are promoting residential development. In the city, there is no demand for solely commercial units,’’ said MMRDA commissioner UPS Madan.
The more than 102-hectare Oshiwara business centre was first planned in 1992 and the plan was revived to a certain degree in 2008. Over the last year, with the MMRDA firming up the plan and working on improving connectivity here, real estate prices in the area jumped by 30% . The Oshiwara railway station has finally been inaugurated even as the proposed Metro 2 corridor is to pass through it.