Pencil-thin skyscrapers, towers lording over congested lanes and haphazard development may continue to characterise Mumbai.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), on paper, claims to have reduced floor space index (FSI) - which determines how high buildings can grow - from the high 8 proposed in the scrapped draft development plan (DP) last year. But a closer look shows the civic body has actually allowed several ways for builders to get more FSI, and more FSI means more buildable area.
The BMC may have also increased the FSI available for many categories of construction.
Read more: BMC for city’s vertical development
The BMC has retained the base FSI of 1.33 in the island city and 1 in the suburbs, but increased the minimum available FSI to 2 by tweaking certain provisions. It has also actually doled out higher FSI, up to 5, for several categories such as commercial structures, hotels, municipal markets and IT parks. Until now, these structures were given an FSI of 2 or 3.
This isn’t all. The BMC has also junked a proposal of the previous draft DP to put a cap on the maximum FSI a builder can avail, and has instead brought back contentious provisions that will let builders get concessions and more FSI - anywhere between 25% and 60% higher.
These concessions include availing 35% additional FSI by paying premiums, getting 40% more FSI by building multi-storied parking lots or free-of-FSI areas such as staircases and passages, among others.
This means a building that is officially given an FSI 5 can avail of astronomically high FSI - anywhere close to double its provision or more.
BMC chief Ajoy Mehta confirmed these provisions will allow a developer to gain more FSI . “But, as we have brought down permissible FSI from 8 to 5, it will help control some of this vertical growth the city will see,” he said.
The BMC’s failure in fixing an upper limit for FSI means different buildings will try and avail of all these concessions and get as much FSI as possible. This, urban planners fear, will give rise to haphazard development that the city is already a victim of, especially in the last two decades.
“The problem isn’t the high FSI, but the complete refusal of BMC to link FSI to the density of population and to the infrastructure needed. Unless that linking happens, high FSI will continue to lead to haphazard growth,” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director, Urban Design Research Centre.