New development plan for Mumbai: Sky is the limit for growth, ground realities grim

DP offers FSI bonanza for developers, opens up 2,230 hectares of NDZ land for affordable homes
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis cleared the long-pending DP on Tuesday late evening; the plan was made public on Wednesday.(HT File Photo)
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis cleared the long-pending DP on Tuesday late evening; the plan was made public on Wednesday.(HT File Photo)
Updated on Apr 26, 2018 11:28 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Ketaki Ghoge, Mumbai

The new Development Plan for Mumbai unveiled by the state government on Wednesday has cleared the decks for more vertical growth and an even more congested metropolis over the next two decades. It offers higher Floor Space Index (FSI) in the range of 2 to 5 in an apparent bid to create 8 million new jobs and at least five lakh affordable homes.

The new DP (2014-2034) will also open up nearly 2,230 hectares of no development zones (NDZs) in the city — equal to nearly nine times the mill land in central Mumbai – for residential housing focused on the affordable segment. This includes 130 hectares of saltpan lands. A majority of the earlier designated NDZ and now redesignated Special Development Zones (SDZs) are spread across western suburbs of Malad, Dindoshi, Charkop, Malvani and Nahur, Vikroli, Bhandup in the eastern suburbs.

This is the largest chunk of land that is being opened up for development after the 600 acres of mill land in Central Mumbai nearly 15 years ago.

In a turn around from the accepted urban planning tenet to decongest the city and use FSI as a planning tool linked to an area’s civic infrastructure, the DP has granted an FSI of 5 for commercial buildings across the city and increased the overall FSI in island city to 3 by allowing additional buildable rights to be purchased against a premium. For the first time, the FSI in the island city will be higher than in the suburbs (2.5).

FSI refers to the ratio of the total buildable area on a plot to the size of the plot. In land-starved Mumbai, it typically indicates how high a building can be constructed.

The new DP has also given an in-principal approval for transit oriented development that will lead to higher FSI of up to 5 for intersections of metro corridors and other mega transit projects, said a senior official, who did not want to be named.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis cleared the long-pending DP on Tuesday late evening; the plan was made public on Wednesday.

On the whole, the city’s DP and new Development Control Regulations (DCR) have lifted the spirits of the city’s realty sector that has been facing a slump. But no separate infrastructure plan to meet the requirements of this proposed construction boom has been drafted by the government.

While developers have welcomed the DP, urban planning experts and critics have panned it as ‘disastrous’ and ‘half baked’ for the maximum city already crumbling due to infrastructure deficit.

“The DP has given a big impetus to open up lands for development as much as possible within the city’s infrastructure capacity. We hope through this there will be market correction in the realty market making houses more affordable. For years we have thought that commercial spaces should not be opened up but in a bid to boost employment we have incentivized this development,’’ said urban development secretary Nitin Kareer.

“We envisage job requirement of 8 million for Mumbai up to 2034. If there are no jobs then the city will be dead,’’ said civic commissioner Ajoy Mehta.

Kareer, Mehta and housing department’s additional chief secretary Sanjay Kumar held a press conference on Wednesday to unveil the DP, but several details including the major modifications made to the civic body’s draft DP were not spelt out. The new development control regulations now termed as development control and promotional regulations have also not been made public.

Officials said the incentive FSI was in sync with the adjoining road width (more than 9 metres) to avoid over congestion, but there are no other safeguards embedded in the DP. “The trunk infrastructure in NDZ land will be provided by the BMC, while developers will be responsible for providing internal amenities. The FSI has been increased for the island city because it has better infrastructure. There is no problem in creating high density areas as long as adequate infrastructure is provided,’’ said Kareer.

He added that while TOD had been accepted in principal, the details of identifying these areas would depend on BMC and a separate DCR would be issued for the same at a later stage.

The state government now plans to issue the DP notification within 15 days. The major modifications to the draft DP of the civic body – FSI of 3 for island city, 15 per cent incentive FSI for redevelopment of private buildings etc– will be separately notified.

On the whole, the scrutiny committee that went through the draft DP of the civic body considered 2342 changes recommended at various levels.

Citizens will be given a chance to give their suggestions and objections for this separately notified DP, following which it will be finalized.

“It would be premature to even comment on this DP given that the state government has revealed only a rough summary of the plan. On the face, this seems to be a FSI bonanza for builders. But, FSI is a planning tool, it cannot be used as a currency to generate revenue. So, even as Mumbaiites die in stampedes at railway stations and get burnt in restaurants, the city DP seems to be saying lets allow for more development without linking it to the civic infrastructure,’’ said Pankaj Joshi, urban planner and director of the Urban Design Research Institute.

The Opposition also slammed the DP. Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam said, “This development plan seems to be a disaster plan..Mumbai is the second-most crowded city in the world.. With this development plan residential areas will increase to 50% adding to the city’s problems.’’

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021