Close on the heels of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, the Devendra Fadnavis-led government on Friday announced a slew of proposed changes to the city’s development control regulation, offering a windfall for the suburbs, promising to hasten redevelopment of old buildings.
In the first major political event before the 2017 polls, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis shared stage with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, in one of Mumbai’s largest suburbs, Ghatkopar, also Housing Minister Prakash Mehta’s constituency, and unveiled a new ‘housing policy.’ The announcements catered to the redevelopment of old dilapidated buildings in the suburbs, buildings of the state housing authority, transit camps and slums sprawled on the key land of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
Fadnavis said, “Mumbai’s suburbs are rife with problems, but the most major one is that the common man is scared about leaving his house (for redevelopment). He fears that once he leaves his home, he will never get it back. But, we are committed to our promise of giving this common man relief.”
For starters, the chief minister said the government plans to adopt the recommendations of the Dinesh Afzalpurkar committee, which was set up in 2008, and extend the incentives offered for the redevelopment of old tenanted buildings in the island city, to the suburbs as well.
Currently, for the redevelopment of old tenanted buildings in the island city, the state government offers a Floor Space Index (FSI) of 3, or that required for the rehabilitation of tenants and minimum incentive of 50 percent that increases with the plot size, whichever is higher. There are about 14,000 such buildings in the island city, known as cessed structures, as residents are required to pay a cess to the state housing authority for their upkeep.
However, there are no incentives offered to similar buildings in the suburbs. Redevelopment of these decrepit buildings—about 10,000 as per the chief minister’s estimates—has been slow with the structures eligible for a maximum FSI of 2. This is the same as offered for the redevelopment of any other suburban building, coercing developers to stay away from dealing with the complexities of tenanted buildings without any additional perks.
Giving in to another long-pending demand from a section of the suburban residents, Fadnavis gave his commitment to rehabilitate eligible slum dwellers squatting on airport land on the same site instead of moving them to another location. After years of protests from the slum dwellers, the erstwhile Congress-NCP government had originally given this commitment in its dying days, by proposing to notify a change in the development control regulations and inviting suggestions and objections on it. The move will benefit 90,000 families occupying 276 acres of land within the severely space-constrained airport.
Attempting to give momentum to the stalled revamp of decrepit buildings of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), the Fadnavis government has also decided to bring back the option of letting developers pay a monetary premium to the authority for plots smaller than 2,000 sqm. Overall, FSI for MHADA buildings’ redevelopment has also been raised to 4. “Developers using an FSI of up to 3 can pay a premium. However, if any additional FSI is being consumed, they will have to share housing stock with MHADA,” Fadnavis said.
Originally, developers undertaking the redevelopment of old MHADA buildings were required to shell out either a monetary premium or a certain portion of the newly-created housing stock as part of the revamp. However, to boost its dwindling stock of affordable houses, in 2010, MHADA decided to end the practice of accepting a premium and made it compulsory for any developer wanting to redevelop a MHADA building to share housing stock, ringing a death knell for the redevelopment of its colonies.
Besides, Fadnavis also announced a scheme to regularize 8,448 illegal residents squatting across 56 transit camps of MHADA that are originally meant to accommodate residents of cessed buildings under redevelopment. The BJP-led government has proposed a deposit of Rs 50,000 and a monthly rent of Rs 6,000 for all such residents, with a 10 percent increase every year, and has also promised to incorporate them under its ambitious ‘housing for all’ mission to give them permanent houses.