Mumbai’s DP pushes vertical limit, to cramp people into less space | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Mumbai’s DP pushes vertical limit, to cramp people into less space

In its newly released development control regulations (DCR 2034), the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has decided to increase to 450 the number of homes that can be built per hectare

mumbai Updated: May 12, 2016 01:18 IST
Kunal Purohit

One of the most densely populated cities in the world is set to get more crowded, again.

The civic body has decided to increase the number of homes that can be built on a single plot of land. The move is likely to have a cascading effect - not only will this pave the way to cramp more people into a single plot of land, but it will also burden an already crumbling infrastructure.  

In its newly released development control regulations (DCR 2034), the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has decided to increase to 450 the number of homes that can be built per hectare. In the 1991 DCR, this was 342 for the suburbs, and 406, when the island city was considered.

But the city’s new draft development plan (DP), which was scrapped last year, proposed to allow only 250 homes per hectare. To increase this figure to a high of 450, experts said, will bring on dangerously high population densities to the city. 

 On paper, this is a minor change. But here are two reasons why this will have a major impact on the ground.

Read more: DP plans to let offices, shops use basements

First, unlike in 1991, this DP is now proposing to open up more than 3,000 hectares of land from erstwhile No Development Zones (NDZ), Port trust lands and salt pans, among others.

The second reason is the burgeoning effect this will have when combined with the ceiling-high floor space index (FSI) currently allowed - quick calculations by HT show just how crowded the city is going to get if redevelopment is done in accordance with the new rule. 

 For instance, a builder is allowed an FSI of 4, the minimum granted for a host of constructions such as affordable housing projects, MHADA projects and town planning.

So, on a single hectare, a developer can build four times the number homes he would have built with a FSIof 1 - which is 450 homes. This is 1,800 homes on a single hectare, 1,80,000 homes on a single sqkm.

When we consider the average size of city house, according to the scrapped DP, this means, on an average, 7.92 lakh people would be living on 1 sqkm of land.

And, there’s worse news. The high densities mentioned here are when a modest FSI of 4 is applied. On the ground, FSIs can zoom up to almost double the number, when various provisions to garner extra FSI are considered. 

Compare this with the current average density in the city, which hovers aroung an average of 20,316 people per sqkm. 

BMC chief Ajoy Mehta, however, said such fears are unwarranted.

“The whole city will not undergo redevelopment, only certain parts will. Also, we haven’t increased the FSI at all, so how will densities increase so much?”

When it was pointed out that the number of homes per hectare had been increased, Mehta said, “The city will have to decide whether everyone wants to stay here or wants to find accommodation outside the city. If we want to create housing for everyone, such a thing is inevitable.”