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Will Mumbai’s new development plan encourage growth of its metropolitan region?

The city is likely to see more commercial skyscrapers coming up not just in the island city but in the suburbs

mumbai Updated: May 29, 2018 00:19 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad
Shailesh Gaikwad
Hindustan Times
Mumbai DP,Mumbai Development Plan,DCPR
Urban planners and citizen groups are now pointing out the new development plan will lead to reckless vertical development in an already congested city with inadequate infrastructure.(HT Photo)

Mumbai’s Development Plan 2034 and the Development Control and Promotion Regulations (DCPR) released by the state government earlier this month has become a major talking point in the city.

The DP and the DCPR under it have cleared the decks for a more vertical Mumbai. It will bring a new floor space index (FSI--which decides how tall a structure can be built on a given plot) regime for the city by allowing the FSI in range of 2.5 to 5. The DCPR has allowed FSI upto 5 for commercial buildings in the city. The new provisions have also opened up 2230 hactares of no development zone (NDZ) in the name of affordable housing. In a nutshell, the provisions under the DP and DCPR would encourage more residential as well as commercial construction with the scope to build more and more vertical structures. The city is likely to see more commercial skyscrapers coming up not just in the island city but in the suburbs.

Urban planners and citizen groups are now pointing out how this will lead to reckless vertical development in an already congested city with inadequate infrastructure. Significantly, these provisions do not seem to be in sync with the focus of the government since 1980s and 1990s: To decongest Mumbai by encouraging more development in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

For past two-three decades, the mandarins in Mantralaya have been pointing out how a better solution to ease the pressure off Mumbai is to encourage residential and commercial development in the MMR and connect those areas with faster means of travel. The first such experiment was to develop Navi Mumbai that had residential as well as commercial nodes. Following it more such centers were expected in the MMR but it did not happen.

Besides Mumbai, the MMR includes cities such as Thane, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan, Dombivli, Panvel, Mira-Bhayander, Vasai, Virar and parts of Thane, Raigad and Palghar districts. As housing became out of bounds for majority of the population in Mumbai, many moved to other cities in the MMR. Even now, a large chunk of people working in Mumbai come from these cities in its neighbourhood. In past decade, some suburban railway projects were undertaken to make their journey between work place and home faster. It has yielded limited success. Some more projects including a few metro lines are in the pipeline. If the commute become faster and a bit comfortable, more people would prefer to stay in neighbouring cities instead of renting matchbox size houses in Mumbai at exorbitantly high rates.

In past few years, policies planned by the state government also focused on creating new growth centres in the MMR so that new commercial establishments would go to the MMR instead of Mumbai. While doing this, the planners had the examples of Noida and Gurgaon in the National Capital Region in mind. As such, state government’s Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) planned Virar-Alibaug multi-modal corridor aimed at providing faster connectivity for passengers and goods transport and thus develop various areas in Thane, Raigad and Palghar districts. Assuming that the Navi Mumbai international airport would lead to commercial development of Navi Mumbai and Raigad, the plan to build Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (linking Mumbai with the mainland through a sealink) was speeded up. Besides Raigad, areas such as Bhiwandi-Kalyan belt in Thane and Virar-Palghar belt in Palghar were seen as potential growth areas. Accordingly, infrastructure projects were planned. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had even announced a growth centre on the lines of Bandra-Kurla Complex near Kalyan.

The question being asked now is: Will the provisions in DP-DCPR slow down the growth of the MMR as Mumbai becomes lucrative for the developers? Or will it prove to be complementary to the development of the MMR?

First Published: May 29, 2018 00:19 IST