In a move that could change Mumbai’s landscape drastically, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has proposed to cut the procedure involved in constructing high-rise buildings. It has proposed to do this by redefining a high-rise from the current 70m (around 23 storeys) to 120m (around 40 storeys).
Currently, any structure that exceeds 70m requires the special approval of the high-rise committee (HRC). This HRC is in-charge of checking the structural stability of proposed high-rises. The BMC’s move will ensure buildings between 70m and 120m don’t fall under the purview of the committee, thereby cutting down on the procedure to construct such buildings.
The civic body put forth the proposal in a presentation last week to the Union urban development ministry. While architects have welcomed such a move, its implications on the city’s infrastructure, along with increasing the densification of areas remain to be seen.
The move comes days after the state authorities attempt to lift restrictions on the floor-space index (FSI) for construction in the city. Both these proposals will lead to a significant vertical growth spurt in the city in the next few years.
It is also likely to be opposed by some planners and environmentalists, who point out the city does not have the kind of infrastructure and amenities to cope with such a spurt.
The BMC may also look at suspending HRC and instead, empanel licensing agencies to offer certification.The HRC has its fair share of critics. Architects and builders have often blamed it for delays in deciding the fate of proposals.
Shirish Sukhatme, chairman of the Practicing Engineers architects and town planners association, said, “On an average, each proposal would take at least a year to be cleared by the HRC. They would often look at issues that were not under their purview.”
Additional municipal commissioner SVR Srinivas said such a move was long pending. “While it is still under consideration, most buildings today touch 70m. Hence, we thought that 120m will be a more realistic height limit.”
This limit extension was also proposed by former civic chief Subodh Kumar. However, the state didn’t respond to the request.
Architect Nitin Killawala, however, said such a blanket extension was undesirable. “It is a myth propagated by the real estate industry that high-rises translate into affordable housing. They can be good in areas that have supporting infrastructure, but not everywhere.”