After facing criticism for not looking at affordable housing in the draft development plan (DP) released earlier, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief Ajoy Mehta has said that affordable housing is a challenge in Mumbai as the definition of the term is getting equated with free housing owing to the city’s demography. The corporation recently sought a six-month extension from the state government to revamp the earlier draft.
At an Idea exchange at The Indian Express office on Thursday, Mehta said that about 62 per cent of the city’s population is now entitled to free housing. “40 per cent of the city’s population lives in slums and 22 per cent in cessed properties. The very definition of affordable housing has gravitated towards free housing because 62 per cent of the people require it today.”
BMC was heavily criticised for its plans on favouring developers by increasing the floor space index (FSI) and leaving out informal sectors and plans for creating affordable housing.
The draft DP had substantially increased the floor space index or FSI for the entire city up to a maximum of 8. FSI is the ratio of the permissible built-up area to the plot area. Former municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte had also said that the BMC is looking at variable FSI to meet the demand-supply mismatch of housing units in the city.
“There is a shortage of 4 million houses in the city currently. Every time a person buys a house in a redeveloped scheme, he is instead buying two flats. We need a more equitable cross-subsidy that looks at low-cost housing with calibrated incentives rather only luxury housing. We can also look at ways to encourage developers to create more low-cost housing,” Mehta added.
Mehta also said that the BMC is facing the challenges of correcting a huge number of errors in the earlier draft and policy changes. “There are designation errors and roads wrongly marked. There are policy errors also. We are also looking at fundamental changes in the development control regulations (DCR). We are studying all the 65,000 suggestions and objections from citizens to revamp the draft,” he said.