In a major embarrassment for the Maharashtra government, the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led urban development department issued an incorrect notification announcing its new policy for incentivising redevelopment of decrepit tenanted properties in the suburbs of Mumbai. Senior government sources said the ‘blunder’ had upset the CM, with his government now being forced to issue a corrigendum.
On September 8, following Fadnavis’s approval, the UD department had issued a notification doling out FSI sops for the redevelopment of dilapidated and unsafe tenanted buildings and cooperative housing societies in the suburbs.
The state’s new incentive FSI policy, which came less than two weeks after 33 innocent lives were lost in the collapse of a decrepit building in the commercial capital, had been in the works for over three decades. Much to the embarrassment of the government, the policy document notified was erroneous.
It turns out that while approving the proposal, the chief minister had sanctioned a minimum FSI of three for such redevelopment projects on the lines of the policy used for incentivising the reconstruction of cessed properties in the island city of Mumbai. In other words, the construction right provided to the builder would at least be three times the size of the plot.
But this condition somehow came to be ‘omitted’ in the notification issued, which limited the developer’s incentive buildable space to 50 per cent of the floor space used for rehabilitation of the existing tenants in the case of fully tenant-occupied buildings. For composite buildings where landlords were coexisting with tenants, the existing built-up space occupied for the owners portion was also considered. Sources said that the CMO and the UD department realised the mistake late Monday evening after the notification was leaked on the social media.
When contacted, Fadnavis confirmed that the department would bring out a corrigendum for correcting the mistake. This was expected to be issued on Wednesday, said sources.
“The chief minister’s approval was for an FSI of 3 or 50 per cent of the rehabilitation floor space, whichever is higher. A corrigendum will be issued in this regard on Wednesday,” a source revealed. Officials blamed an “oversight” for the gaffe.
Instead of considering the draft that had been approved by the chief minister, department officials published a notification on the basis of an older draft, argued sources, while defending that this was done inadvertently.
While the state’s housing department had been pushing for a minimum FSI of 3 for such projects from the very beginning, the UD was opposed to the idea initially. Meanwhile, the corrected notification, once out, is likely to bring cheer among families residing in unsafe suburban tenanted properties. But some questions have been raised over the various riders, including imposition of a development cess, insistence of a 70 per cent consent from tenants, and restriction of the benefit to only those buildings that have been declared by the civic body as dangerous or unsafe to live in.
With the new policy also expected to lift the curbs on construction of such redevelopments imposed due a Bombay High Court order in 2016, the government is hoping that it would give suburban properties a speedy makeover. But for now, the benefit will be limited to less than 600-odd properties, confirmed civic officials. A demand for extending the policy to all tenanted properties and housing societies over three decades old is being raised. The government has offered the tenants ownership homes of minimum 300 square feet under the policy.