Mumbai: Plan for taller buildings, higher densities around Metro, rail corridors on hold

Government sources said that the contentious proposal won’t be a part of Mumbai’s new development control regulations for now. The new rules will kick in from September 1.

Written by Sandeep Ashar | Mumbai | Published: August 31, 2018 6:49:13 am
Mumbai: Plan for taller buildings, higher densities around Metro, rail corridors on hold With several Metro routes being planned in Mumbai, some of the government town planners too have reservations about the impact permitting higher FSI in the influence corridor would have on the city’s overall infrastructure. (File)

A plan to permit taller buildings and allow additional buildable space to construction firms developing properties around Mumbai’s public transport corridors has been put on hold for now.

Government sources said that the contentious proposal won’t be a part of Mumbai’s new development control regulations for now. The new rules will kick in from September 1.

While the Mumbai municipality, which had drafted the city’s new Development Plan (DP), had rejected the “idea of providing higher floor space index (FSI) around transit corridors”, the Maharashtra government had been pushing it in order to raise resources for Metro rail routes.

FSI, also known as Floor Area Ratio, is a development tool that defines the extent of construction permissible on a plot. It is the ratio of the built-up area of a plot to the plot area. An FSI of 1 for building on a 10,000 square meter plot area would basically allow the builder a construction right of 10,000 square meter.

The CM-led Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has been demanding to allow developments to construct up to four times the plot size or FSI 4 within 500 meters of the existing and proposed Metro rail corridors, contending that 50 per cent of the premiums collected from the additional FSI can be used for funding Metro rail projects.

But the Mumbai municipality had red-flagged the plan while drafting Mumbai’s new DP. In the DP report, which was eventually approved by the government in May, BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta had stated that the “the idea was flawed in many ways, as it would make the already congested station areas more congested”.

The town planner involved in the formulation of the new DP echoed his concerns. “Those living near the transport corridors use their private vehicles, and were unlikely to shift to public transport.”

But while the “transit oriented development (TOD)” approach for permitted higher construction densities was not considered at the time of designing the planning standards for the new DP, the state government had plans to incorporate it in the new regulations before they are implemented.

The first hint of the government’s intention in this regard had come in September 2016. While approving two Metro rail services — the Rs 10,986-crore D N Nagar-Bandra-Mankhurd corridor and the Rs 14,549-crore Wadala-Thane corridor — the Cabinet had granted an in-principle approval to providing additional floor space index for the development of properties within 500 meters of the proposed Metro rail corridors.

However, following the civic body’s objection, an alternative proposal of reducing the influence corridor to 100 to 150 meters was under consideration. The Fadnavis government has already approved a TOD model within 500 meters of transit corridors in Nagpur.

But sources said that a consensus on the issue is yet to be achieved. “It is on hold for now,” said an official.

With several Metro routes being planned in Mumbai, some of the government town planners too have reservations about the impact permitting higher FSI in the influence corridor would have on the city’s overall infrastructure. Question are also being raised on how introduction of a higher variable FSI model could impact the DP’s character.

Also, pushed on the back burner is the plan for a “special dispensation” in the new regulations for development of buildings facing height restrictions owing to their proximity to the airport or defence installations, sources said.

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