In order to simplify the approval process for high-rise buildings, a state government-appointed committee has recommended that the municipal commissioner be empowered to grant permissions for buildings up to a height of 120 metres, or about 40 floors.
Currently, the civic chief can grant permissions for buildings with a height of up to 70 metres, approximately 21 floors. For all taller buildings, the permission of the high-rise committee is required. Architects and real estate consultants said this move would help nudge ahead redevelopment projects that are planned with larger open spaces and other amenities.
The government committee, which submitted its report to the state government earlier this month, was headed by Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta. The other members include two architects, and a member each from the Practising Engineers Architects & Town Planners Association (PEATA) and the Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI).
Civic officials said the proposal to give greater powers to the commissioner had been pending for a long time. Last year, the civic body raised the issue in a meeting with Chief Secretary Swadhin Kshatriya. Subsequently, a committee was constituted to study the issue and make recommendations to the state government.
“The committee found out that many developers have submitted proposals for buildings with a height of 69 metres only in order to avoid going to the high-rise committee. The high-rise committee meetings were not being held once in three months. This delayed the entire approval process by six months to a year,” the official explained.
“The committee has made its recommendation along with adequate safeguards for building safety. Other rules pertaining to the building proposals and environment clearances will remain unchanged,” Mehta told The Indian Express.
The committee has also recommended peer review by a consultant such as IIT or any other institution having expertise in high-rise constructions.
Sources said the original proposal had been to dissolve the high-rise committee. “But the committee can’t be dissolved due to a High Court order. So, it was decided to dilute some powers. Hence, the committee recommended giving powers to the civic chief to grant permissions for buildings with a height of up to 120 metres (around 40 floors),” the source added.
Shirish Sukhatme, former president of PEATA and a member of the committee, said this move is in the right direction. “The recommendation will help citizens get more open spaces and other facilities. It will also help in the redevelopment of buildings under 33 (7), cessed MHADA buildings in the island city,” said Sukhatme.
Dharmesh Jain, president of MCHI, also welcomed the move. “Over the last 10 years, technology has evolved. We have enough expertise to construct high-rise buildings now,” said Jain. “I don’t think that the number of proposals will increase. But the process of getting permissions has been reduced.”