To decongest Mumbai, building height to be linked to width of roads

Rule had been announced for all other municipalities except Mumbai in May this year

Written by Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | Published:September 21, 2016 12:45 am

In a bid to decongest Mumbai, the country’s commercial capital, the government has decided to restrict heights of buildings in proportion to the width of roads that serve them.

Under the plan, narrower the road, lesser will be the vertical limit for buildings around it, and vice versa.

On May 2 this year, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also heads the urban development department, had applied this concept for all other municipalities with the exception of Mumbai through a revision in the government’s policy pertaining to transferable development rights (TDR) or development rights certificate.

In the case of Mumbai — touted as India’s highrise capital — the plan was put on hold, following complaints from developers and a section of town planners that it would make redevelopment of old properties abutting narrow roads unviable.

The TDR or development rights certificate allows developers construction rights over and above the base FSI permitted when they construct or redevelopment buildings. It is generated when the developer or a land owner surrenders land for reserved public amenities in built-up form or rehouse slum dwellers or project affected persons free a cost.

“Another reason behind deferring of the plan was that unlike many other municipalities, development control regulations for Mumbai allow builders to avail additional construction rights or floor space index (FSI) in the form of fungible FSI,” a senior official said.

But now, four months later, the government has taken up the proposal to extend the same concept to Mumbai. Sources confirmed to The Indian Express that the revision in TDR norms for Mumbai was underway. Keen to project the new policy as an achievement of the government in the run-up to the upcoming Mumbai municipality polls, sources confirmed that the Chief Minister-led Urban Development department will soon roll out the new policy.

The BJP government’s keenness to unveil the policy ahead of elections stems from another feature in the policy, which makes TDR utilisation universal across Mumbai. The TDR can now be used only in suburbs of Mumbai. Even within the suburbs, the rider is that it can only be loaded on properties situated to the north of the plot from which it was generated.

“A cartel of developers control the TDR market at present. There have been a spate of complaints that this cartel often resorts to artificially hiking TDR rates, which in turn impact affordability of houses. It is felt that by allowing it to be utilised all across the city, the demand will increase, and regulate the supply of the development tool,” said a senior BJP minister. Further, in order to check the practice of generating TDR from pockets of lower market value and loading it on areas where the market value is higher, the government has “indexed” the TDR value with the market values on both sides.

According to the proposal, no TDR will be permissible on plots abutting roads that are less than 9 meters or 30
feet wide. There is no such cap now.

While developers and some civic town planners have argued that this would hit the viability of redevelopment projects in the proximate areas, a senior official said the government had plans not to extend the restriction in maximum permissible built-up area for slum rehabilitation schemes, redevelopments of cessed properties, Mhada colonies, dilapidated buildings, Urban Renewal Schemes, among others.

“Also, such roads make up for about 10 per cent of Mumbai’s road network. Such properties will have the option of offering land for road widening projects than avail TDR,” said a source.

Further, while the new policy is not expected to lead to any change in permissible built-up space for plots surrounding roads that are 30-60 feet wide, which account for around 60 per cent of Mumbai’s road network, the new policy is expected to provide additional construction rights for properties abutting roads over 60 feet wide.

For those in the vicinity of roads 90 feet wide or more, the revised TDR policy could result in a windfall, sources confirmed. Wary of being criticised for doling out FSI perks in such cases, the government has plans to cap the maximum built-up space permissible to 3.5 times the plot size even in such cases. The restrictions on utilisation of TDR in sensitive areas such as gaothans and other regions falling in the coastal regulation zone belt will continue, sources confirmed.