THE MAHARASHTRA government has diluted norms for the grant of additional buildable space to luxury hotels in Mumbai. A rider that star-category hotels must have been constructed on a minimum plot area of 2,500 square metres to avail the sop has been done away it. Since 2009, the government has allowed a floor space index (FSI) of 3.5 for star-category hotel buildings in Mumbai to promote the hospitality sector. FSI is the ratio of the buildable area to the total plot size. An FSI of 3.5 means licence to build upto 3.5 times the plot size.
The then government had, however, restricted the benefit to hotels on over 2,500 sq m plots. On Tuesday, the Devendra Fadnavis government lifted the rider making the additional buildable space norms applicable to all star-category hotels regardless of the plot size. The cabinet gave the Fadnavis-led urban development department a nod to modify Mumbai’s Development Control regulations in this regard. The government has ruled that the plot size won’t be considered for hotels proposing to limit the building space to an FSI of 3.
Incidentally, the department had initially sought the CM’s approval to implement the modification last November, but the CMO had ruled that it should be placed before the cabinet along with other policy measures to “encourage tourism in the state”. Incidentally, Tuesday’s modification comes at a time when Mumbai’s new Development Plan (DP) has already been submitted to the state government for approval. The new DP has proposed doing away with the special distinction made in the existing regulations for star-category hotel buildings, while extending FSI benefits to all hotels.
BJP MLA Parag Alavani, who had raised the demand with the CMO for relaxation in the minimum plot area condition, however, said: “The waiver was a longstanding demand of hotel owners. The demand was justified and the government had been in the process of modifying the regulations…” Following the cabinet’s decision, the CMO issued a press release stating that the decision had been taken to “encourage more investment in the hospitality sector and generate new employment”. Hoteliers will also benefit from the relaxation of norms related to the width of fronting road and internal passages, and the building height among others.
A three-star hotel in Vile Parle — built by Genesis Resorts Private Limited — might well be the one to benefit almost immediately. As reported in The Indian Express previously, the hotel was facing action for allegedly building excess areas. Last June, the BMC had declared that three floors in the hotel were irregular. Civic chief Ajoy Mehta had ordered that “all additional areas in the hotel be sealed and marked on the floor plans as proposed to be demolished”. The firm approached the UD department for permission to grant incentive FSI to regularise the violation, but the proposal was grounded since the hotel’s plot size was 1799.33 sq m — not meeting the minimum area norm.
Madhukar Shetty, chairman, Genesis Resorts, confirmed that his firm had been seeking such relaxation. “The hotel has been ready for use for over two years. But since the occupation has not been granted by the BMC, there is no revenue generation. On the other hand, expenditure on housekeeping and maintenance of central air-conditioning has to be undertaken…,” he said. Stating that the changes introduced to the policy will benefit the sector to a certain extent, Shetty, however, stressed that he had sustained losses during the past three years.