Doling out a major bonanza to the builder lobby ahead of the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra, the Prithviraj Chavan-led government in the state is set to raise the stakes for developers in slum rehabilitation projects.
According to a proposal that was taken up for discussion by Chavan Friday, developers taking up slum redevelopment projects in Mumbai’s adjoining Thane city would be offered up a staggering 300 per cent incentive on the area utilised for rehabilitation of slum dwellers.
In simple terms, this means that if a builder utilises 10,000 sq ft built-up area for rehabilitation of slum families situated on a plot, he could built his free sale apartments utilising another 30,000 sq ft built-up area. Sources said that the maximum incentive offered could even touch 400 per cent of rehabilitation component for plot with high density of slum population.
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In Mumbai, which is also recognised as India’s slum capital, the developers are currently offered up to 100 per cent floor space index (FSI) incentive on the rehabilitation component. FSI is the ratio of built-up area to the total plot area. Only for redevelopment of Asia’s largest slum colony at Dharavi has the government offered 133 per cent incentive as a special case.
Even as the FSI incentive model for slum redevelopment in Mumbas has fared miserably with less than 15 per cent projects completed in 18 years since its inception, the government has decided to extend a similar model for Thane, albeit with higher FSI perks.
Town planners fear that such a move would further burden an already creaking infrastructure. Government officials also did not rule out that the move to raise the stakes in Thane could be seen as a precedent with similar demands being raised in Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad, and Nagpur, where the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), which implements such redevelopment projects, is already in place.
The Thane municipal corporation had earlier passed a resolution for introduction of a redevelopment scheme on the lines of the SRA model implemented in Mumbai and the three other cities.
The proposal now being considered is to divide Thane city into four zones on the basis of prevalent market rate with regions with lower the market values offered higher incentives. The minimum incentive being planned is 150 per cent of rehabilitation component.
While another slum redevelopment scheme (SRD) where incentives are provided on a revenue sharing model is in place in Thane, the civic body and senior SRA officials have argued that this had become unviable with increase in land and construction cost in the region.
In July this year, the Bombay High Court had rapped the state govenrment for delaying a decision on the civic body’s resolution and ordered it to take a firm call on it by August 14. It has scheduled a hearing on a related petition on August 19.
Justifying the move to raise stakes for developers, a senior official pointed out that market prices for sale of apartments in most areas in Mumbai were two to three times higher than those in Thane. “The construction cost is almost the same for both areas. Hence there is a need to offer more incentives,” the official said.
Requesting anonymity, a town planning official however said that “there was a need to derive an alternative solution since the FSI incentive model had clearly failed in Mumbai. When the SRA model was introduced in Mumbai in 1996, about 40 lakh slum dwellers resided in Mumbai. While the slum population in Mumbai has since crossed the 55 lakh mark, only 2 lakh odd people have been rehabilitated in SRA schemes so far.”
According to the Thane civic body, there are about 2.30 lakh slum hutments housing 10.5 lakh people in Thane. Many of these slums are located in no development and green zones, and coastal regulations zones, where restrictions on development are in force.