High FSI, lack of affordable homes still a concern | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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High FSI, lack of affordable homes still a concern

The controversial development plan (DP) may be axed for now, but does it also mean the end of the road for contentious issues such as the high floor space index (FSI), transit corridors and residential-commercial zones? And will the revised blueprint finally make provisions for affordable homes in the city?

mumbai Updated: Apr 22, 2015 00:14 IST
Kunal Purohit

The controversial development plan (DP) may be axed for now, but does it also mean the end of the road for contentious issues such as the high floor space index (FSI), transit corridors and residential-commercial zones? And will the revised blueprint finally make provisions for affordable homes in the city?

Uncertainty surrounds these questions for now. In fact, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ decision to scrap the draft DP without actually pointing to any specific problems has led to more ambiguity.

This could mean the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) may not look at changing these issues, and some token measures may be taken to console citizens.

Such a move may end up reducing the chances of getting a sounder plan and may not prevent haphazard vertical development, as feared by the experts.

Beyond factual errors such as marking prominent places incorrectly and marking roads where none exist, there is a lot more in the DP that has invited flak from activists and residents alike.

For instance, the civic body’s decision to offer higher FSI along transit routes would mean that station areas around Dadar, Andheri and Ghatkopar would get an FSI of up to 8.

Experts said such a move will lead to reckless development and taller buildings in these areas, but it will not be supported by infrastructure.

In addition, the draft DP has refused to keep land reserved for cheaper homes and instead, diluted existing provisions for providing affordable homes. It isn’t known whether the revised DP will relook at these provisions.

Civic officials admit these issues will be shaped up depending on the state government’s stance.

“These are larger policy-level issues that the state must decide on. We had received tacit support from the government [on the provisions] when we first unveiled the DP two months ago. But a lot has changed since then, and we must see if they are ready to back it anymore,” said a senior civic official, not wishing to be named, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Experts, however, believe that Fadnavis’ announcement will make little sense if the civic body doesn’t correct larger conceptual flaws in the plan.

“I fear that the decision is an entirely political one since it has left so much ambiguity in everyone’s minds. There are too many major issues in the DP — from excluding the informal livelihoods of the city to not planning affordable homes. Four months seem too short a period for the development plan to rectify all these mistakes,” said Sitaram Shelar, member of Hamara Shehar Vikas Niyojan, an umbrella group of organisations calling for a more inclusive DP.