The state government has dished out a bouquet of new perks for developers redeveloping slum dwellings in Mumbai.
The revised Development Control Regulations for Mumbai have proposed an increase in the sale component a developer can exploit in a slum redevelopment project by hiking the overall extent of the buildable area or FSI for all categories of slum projects by another 33 per cent.
Besides this, the new regulations have also announced higher incentives for redeveloping slum enclaves situated on lands spread over five acres.
In another contentious move, the new regulations permit the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) chief to relax by 25 per cent the minimum tenement density of 650 per hectare, which is presently mandated. Sources said the relaxation would also lead to an increase in the developer’s sale component since it would rule out the need to surrender some tenements to the government towards affordable housing in almost all cases.
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Under the existing norms, the built-up space permitted for such projects in computed taking the minimum tenement density into account. In the case of slum colonies where the rehabilitation component of existing slum units is lower than this minimum standard, the developer is required to utilise the balance FSI for constructing affordable housing units, which are to be surrendered free-of-cost to the SRA.
Sources admitted the slum redevelopment projects had already turned into a goldmine for developers. Developers were already permitted to build up to three times the slum size or three FSI in situ. The new rules have now proposed to densify the redeveloped components further by proposing to hike this FSI to four. Further in a bid to encourage development of larger-sized slum enclaves, the government has proposed to provide even higher incentives to developers for bigger-sized slum clusters. The plan is to provide an additional 5% incentive buildable space for those taking up slum projects on lands between 5-10 acres. This will further increase to 10 per cent for projects on 10-20 acre land, 15 per cent for 20-40 acres, and 20 per cent above 40 acres.
The move to hike the FSI for slum redevelopment projects comes at a time when the latest land use survey had found that slum clusters had the highest population densities in the city. In fact, about 52 lakh people living in slums currently occupy just eight per cent of the city’s geographical area. Permitting more buildable space on these lands would only increase such densities further, a senior official admitted.
A section of city officials had opposed the plan to heighten the FSI levels further; but sources said the state housing department and bureaucrats in the SRA had insisted on this being provided.
In fact, the government had even recommended a controversial proposal of permitting slum dwellers found ineligible for rehabilitation in a slum redevelopment projects to be accommodated through allotment of the affordable housing units, which are currently used for rehabilitation of people affected by vital public projects. But the civic officials decided against incorporating this in the regulation, and have said this should be decided at the government level.
In another contentious move, the new regulations permit the SRA projects to be taken up on encroached plots that reserved for public purposes, which are over 5,000 square feet in size. The new regulation said one-third of the area would only have to be carved out for a non-buildable reservation such as a recreational park or a garden, while the remaining two-third portion can be used for slum redevelopment. Also, the entire reserved land will be considered for computing FSI for such encroached plots.
For slums on buildable reservations such as schools, the government has proposed that the developers would build the school as per the civic body’s requirement on a portion of the plot, while utilising the remaining area for slum redevelopment. Again, the entire land will be considered for FSI computation in this case too.
The SRA has also relaxed the minimum space requirement for declaration of “difficult areas” as slums for redevelopment projects from the current 40 hectare to 20 hectares thereby clearing decks for more areas to be brought under slum redevelopment projects. Since its inception in 1996, the SRA has allotted over 1,500 slum projects, but just about 16 per cent of these have so far been completed.
Ironically while the number of city slum dwellers have risen from 40 lakh in 1996 to 52 lakh presently, some of the city’s most luxurious landmarks have been built on slum lands.
Norms for relaxations in certain planning requirements have also been proposed. The SRA has, however, made provisions to collect higher lease rents from developers and societies coming up on the sale component. The SRA land is leased out to the societies for 30 years.