In what is being described as the biggest regularisation exercise in the country, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Saturday notified rules for legalising over 5 lakh unauthorised constructions across urban belts. The Fadnavis-led Urban Development (UD) department, which has faced criticism from the Bombay High Court over the mass regularisation plan, has persisted with it, notifying the final rules in this regard on Saturday.
While the BJP had earlier run a successful election campaign for urban local bodies where it had doled out the promise, the High Court had objected to this policy. On July 21, Fadnavis declared his intention of going ahead with the plan, with his department publishing the draft rules for the regularisation. These have now been finalised.
Accordingly, unauthorised structures constructed before December 31, 2015 can now be legalised. The government has, however, clarified that the benefit won’t be extended to unauthorised constructions in ecologically sensitive areas such as riverbeds, canals, tanks, blue flood lines, defence lands, quarries, heritage sites, dumping grounds, mangroves, forest lands, and buffer zones, etc. It has also stated that unauthorised developments in violation of land use plans in non-residential areas won’t be covered.
Earlier in March, a division bench of the Bombay High Court had struck down the government’s previous attempt at regularisation, contending that a “drastic regularisation exercise” would force the planning authority to modify development plans for cities, while encouraging unauthorised developments. It had also objected to concessions in planning norms for facilitating such a regularisation.
The move will also extend a lifeline to the 20,000 residents of Navi Mumbai’s Digha village, where the Bombay HC had earlier ordered a demolition drive. In Thane, Mumbai’s biggest satellite town, officials said that over 1 lakh buildings have reportedly committed illegalities, while 65,000 unauthorised buildings exist in Pimpri-Chinchwad.
Fadnavis had earlier included redevelopment of illegal buildings as a rehabilitation component in the urban renewal scheme for Thane.
In Mumbai, the commercial capital, the move will mainly benefit residents of hundreds of buildings, where the builders have built beyond permissible floor space index limits. Sources said that the Campa Cola compound residents may benefit too.
According to the rules, a one-time penalty will be collected from the beneficiaries for regularisation in the form of compounding fee and infrastructure charges. This would be at least three times the payable development charge for the plot in question. The development charge is computed on the basis of ready reckoner rate (RR), which is the market value for a plot as determined by the government.
The government has also diluted town planning norms for the regularisation. Consider this. The setback area — the minimum distance a building must keep from a street — has been halved for legalising hundreds of structures that have come up along road margins. Further, in what might turn out to be a windfall for builders who have constructed beyond what was permitted or have illegally brought common areas into habitable use, the rules permit them to purchase additional FSI, capped to the maximum permissible FSI level, to regularise the structures.
Government town planners admitted that this could come as a bonanza for builders of some luxury construction projects in south and central Mumbai. Apart from premiums payable for the additional FSI, such unauthorised developments will be required to pay 10 per cent of the plot’s ready reckoner rate, the rules state. Further, while making the structural stability certificate a must before compounding such unauthorised structures, the government has also relaxed norms regarding parking space and plinth area requirements for redevelopment.
“If parking area is not possible to be provided for the individual building, the possibility of providing mechanical parking or a common parking space in the adjoining area can be considered. If this is not possible, then concession in parking area requirement (should) for residential building be given by charging an additional premium of 20 per cent of the land rate in the prevalent RR,” the rules state. In the case of commercial or industrial construction, the concession allowed in parking space has been capped at 50 per cent of the requirement.
Incidentally, the Fadnavis-led department has empowered the local planning authorities (municipalities in most cases) to decide the matters of regularisation either on a case-to-case or a class-to-class basis. All such agencies have been directed to invite applications from owners and occupiers of such unauthorised structures within six months.