‘FSI concept is making housing unaffordable’ | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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‘FSI concept is making housing unaffordable’

“Why is a city with such a high density of people reluctant to have a higher density of buildings?” Ketaki Ghoge reports.

mumbai Updated: Feb 10, 2010 00:56 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

“Why is a city with such a high density of people reluctant to have a higher density of buildings?”

Kate Barker, who reviews housing supply and land use policy for the British government finds Mumbai’s stunted growth perplexing.

Barker, who is visiting India to give a series of public lectures on housing — organised by non-government organisations like Bombay First, and the Washington, DC-based Wolfensohn Centre for Development — told Hindustan Times that restricting Mumbai’s vertical growth was not a solution to its housing crisis.

For decades, the city’s planners have used Floor Space Index (FSI) as a planning tool to limit how high a developer can build in the city, ostensibly to control congestion. FSI is the ratio of constructed floor space to the area of the plot — it is limited to 1.33 in the city.

Land use experts like Barker are now questioning the logic behind FSI, pointing out that such control will only lead to escalating real estate prices.

“In England, there is a resistance to increased development. One of the arguments made is that there is less water. But, water is not for houses, it’s for people and they are already here,” she points out.

That is also one of the main arguments against increasing FSI in the city: the lack of civic amenities. But Barker says that logic only resulted in poor housing stock, higher prices and therefore unaffordable homes for the middle class.

Mumbai’s planners have been working to rationalise FSI by increasing it along transport corridors and business hubs like the Bandra-Kurla Complex, but that move is still on paper.

She admits governments cannot regulate real estate prices. “Unless land as an asset is managed and distributed well, it is difficult to regulate or control real estate prices,” she says.