Mumbai to feel space crunch after BMC relaxes norms

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: May 29, 2016 00:53 IST

Starved of space and densely populated, Mumbai will need 7,832 hectares of land, if it has to provide infrastructure to all its citizens by the next twenty years. This is nearly 16 per cent of the total land mass in the city which needs to be freed up for creating amenities on them, right from open spaces to medical and educational facilities among other things.

Despite such a staggering need before it, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now controversially decided to slash by half, the land that big builders were supposed to give to the city, when they undertook construction on large plots.

Called the ‘land-pooling strategy’, the civic body had, last year, proposed that all big builders who were carrying out construction on plots more than 2,000 square metres were supposed to give 10 per cent of their land as ‘amenity area’ to the civic body. This was aimed at builders who combine various plots to carry out redevelopment and earn handsome floor space index (FSI) on such large plots.

The BMC would then use this land for various uses, depending on the needs of the area, from open spaces to markets, welfare centres, police chowkies, libraries, dispensaries, fire stations among other things.

Such an arrangement would have benefitted residents of the project as well as the city as it would have led to creation of more infrastructure. However, the BMC has now gone ahead and relaxed that norm, a move which will help big-ticket construction projects. From pushing builders to give 10 per cent of their land, the BMC has now slashed it to half, stating that builders can now get away with contributing only 5 per cent of their land.

This isn’t all. From making all plots over 2,000 square metres to contribute such land, the BMC has now said that only those plot owners with over 4,000 square meters of land will have to contribute such spaces. The result of this is that the city will lose out on a large number of amenity spaces that it could have got under such a scheme.

This isn’t for residential, commercial construction alone. The BMC has made similar concessions for builders even if they propose to change the use of industrial land and convert them into residential or commercially used land. Pankaj Joshi, executive director, Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), said that such a move didn’t augur well for the city’s development.

“This is a clear relaxation of the norms. While we struggle to find land for amenities, there is no need to make such concessions to builders who will earn handsome returns in lieu of such relaxations.”

BMC chief Ajoy Mehta was unavailable for comment

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