The Development Plan 2034 has not only increased Mumbai’s floor-space index (FSI) considerably, it has also opened up the until now protected south Mumbai for utilisation of transfer of development rights (TDR also known as floating FSI). The overall phenomenal increase in bulk FSI, linked to proximity to mass transit modes but not indexed to provision of physical and social infrastructure, may not augur well for the average citizen’s quality of life.
The FSI is the ratio of all covered areas to the plot area. The 20-year land use plan, released by the BMC Monday, has weeded out the element of discretion that was prevalent in the FSI norms this far, instead granting a variable FSI of up to 8. Accordingly, parts of heavily crowded Andheri and Dadar, where multiple modes of mass transport converge, have the highest FSI of 8. Vast stretches of CST-Churchgate region, Dadar-Parel, Kurla and Andheri in addition to some portions of Bandra, Ghatkopar, Goregaon, Borivali and Malad, are slated to get a high FSI of over 6.5. However, the same DP also states that the allocation for open spaces, education and healthcare service has been reduced significantly while it provides for no corresponding provision to augment the road network, water pipelines, sewage lines and similar basic services. The FSI hike has been justified by BMC on the grounds that it will ease the housing shortage in Mumbai by providing an average per capita area of 27 sq m (290 sq ft) for the projected population of 13.95 million in 2034. “It is facile and not prudent by past experiences to state that high FSI would mean more and better housing for all residents of Mumbai. High FSI is a gift to a few, the burden of which is borne by all. It will have an adverse impact on the existing transport facilities, environment and infrastructure, but the government seems bent on sacrificing the quality of life at the altar of so-called development,” said former BMC commissioner Sharad Kale.
Pankaj Joshi, from the Urban Design Research Institute, pointed out that the projected figure of 27 sq m per capita for housing belies the ground reality that the current per capita built-up area for housing was merely 3 to 4 sq m.
“In such a situation it is ridiculous to assume that the FSI increase will lead to each and every person in Mumbai, on an average, having 300 sq ft of housing space for himself. FSI has been increased across Mumbai and there is talk of creating an international financial and entertainment centre but the DP makes no reference to informal sector that accounts for a majority of the city, be it slums or livelihoods such as hawking” said Joshi.
At present, almost 42 per cent of Mumbai’s population lives in slums that occupy merely 8 per cent of its land area. While the DP mentions that the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRA) is heavily flawed, it rehabilitates slums in just half the original area, fails to create additional affordable housing and gives incentive FSI to developers, the draft DP 2034 continues to grant such incentive FSI to developers for SRA as well as redevelopment of cessed structures.
Civic officials said the DP made it mandatory upon developers to hand over 10 to 20 per cent of their plot area to the BMC to create land pool which the latter could then use to enforce various reservations such as roads and open spaces. “To ensure there was adequate affordable housing, the DP also makes it compulsory for builders with projects on a plot size of over 2,000 sq m to reserve 10 per cent of the built-up area for smaller sized homes,” Joshi said.
However, urban planners argued this was actually a dilution of the existing norms that mandate reservation of as much as 20 per cent area for inclusive housing.