BMC for city’s vertical development

  • Chetna Yerunkar and Laxman Singh, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 28, 2016 01:27 IST
The civic body has also decided to open up 3,000 hectares of land, including 2,100 hectares of no-development zones and 260 hectares of saltpans. (HT File)

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has increased the minimum floor space index (FSI) to 2, paving the way for more high-rises to come up across the city.

Floor space index or FSI determines how much buildable area is available on a particular plot. More FSI means more buildable area. Currently, the base FSI for the island city is 1.33 and for the suburbs is 1.

Urban planners, however, have questioned the move saying it will lead to more congestion in Mumbai if it is not backed with a proper plan for developing infrastructure.

The civic body has also decided to allow use of transfer of development rights (TDR) anywhere in the city and scrapped the controversial Transit Oriented Development (TOD) concept from the draft development plan (DP) 2034. The decisions are a part of new proposals under the revised draft development plan prepared after CM Devendra Fadnavis directed a revision following widespread criticism.

The civic body has also decided to open up 3,000 hectares of land, including 2,100 hectares of no-development zones and 260 hectares of saltpans, to create affordable housing and public open spaces –a move likely to meet opposition from environment activists. This means more land that is supposed to be preserved for environmental reasons will now be developed.

“The move (of increasing FSI) will bring in parity in terms of development in the suburbs and island city,” civic chief Ajoy Mehta said.

The BMC has capped FSI at 5.

The FSI allowed for development of plots by Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) has been increased from the existing 3 to 4, but remains unchanged at 3 for redevelopment of cessed buildings in Mumbai.

The construction of hotels on independent lands has been made 5 FSI – this earlier depended on the stars of the hotel and ranged between FSI of 3 to 5.

The TOD concept, which faced objections from experts and citizens’ groups has been scrapped. Under TOD, the civic body proposed more FSI for buildings near railway stations or transit-heavy areas. It was feared the TOD provisions would lead to congestion in areas such like SV Road and the western suburbs.

Another major move is the BMC’s decision to remove restrictions on using TDR – a compensation in the form of FSI given to a plot owner for giving his plot for a public amenity —only on the north of the plot.

This means, TDR can be used even in island city. The decisions pertaining to flexible use of TDR and permission of FSI up to 5 for commercial structures would mean more vertical commercial buildings could be built in the island city.

Mehta said, “The idea behind increasing FSI for commercial structures was Mumbai is the commercial capital of the country, and has to have offices, which is possible by this incentive. Also, a base FSI of 2 is capable enough to meet the housing needs of the city.”

Planners, however, struck a note of caution.

“The hike in FSI needs to be backed with sound infrastructure, otherwise there could be more congestion in the city,” said urban planner Pankaj Joshi.

The decisions could give a boost to real estate sector, currently facing slowdown.

Arqam Shaikh, owner of Arc Associates, an architectural firm, working mostly in south Mumbai said, “Allowing using TDR in island city is a great move, and commercial FSI being hiked will also benefit us. The revised DP on the face of it appears good, but then only after it’s put into force one will be able to say what it means in terms of development potential of the city. The Affordable housing scheme with an FSI of 3 looks good too.”

The civic body has also increased the FSI for development of government and municipal plots for offices from earlier 4 to 5 FSI and for government and municipal staff quarters has been increased to 4.

Technically, while the base FSI for both island city and the suburbs has been retained, the way this FSI is calculated has been tweaked leading to higher FSI for buildings. In addition due to provision of being able to use TDR in both the island city and suburbs, a structure can easily avail of a minimum of 2 FSI in both parts of the city.

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