Allowing sexpansion of several city-based hospitals, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday decided to permit hospitals in the state to be built as high as 45 metre from the current height limit of 30 metre, or 10 floors, by amending the Maharashtra Fire Services Act.
State-run Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, which has a Rs 630-crore revamp proposal, and Borivali’s Bhagwati Hospital, which was under redevelopment and was not getting permission for the top few floors, would be some of the immediate beneficiaries, a state government official said. Besides, planned expansion projects of Sion Hospital, King Edward Memorial Hospital and Asian Heart Institute will also get a boost.
Even as these hospitals are eligible for a Floor-Space Index (FSI) of up to five, the establishments were unable to use it due to height restriction. FSI refers to the extent of construction on a given plot.
Some ministers in the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday asked for a complete removal of height restrictions for hospitals. Citing examples of other Indian cities, Prakash Mehta, state housing minister, demanded that the height restriction be eased to 60-65 metre at least in Mumbai.
Considering the fire-fighting capacity of cities across Maharashtra, however, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis decided to cap the height at 45 metre, with the state having the discretion to allow more height in certain cases, depending on the population and requirement.
Manisha Mhaiskar, principal secretary at the state urban development department, said, “The state will not have to amend the Act again in case the ceiling has to be further increased for a particular municipal corporation. The state government will be authorised to take such decisions.”
This provision will be particularly of use to state-run JJ Hospital, which has in its expansion plan proposed a height of 70 metre.
T P Lahane, dean at JJ Hospital, said, “We were unable to implement the proposal with a 30-metre height limit. We have proposed 70 metres so that we have to demolish one less building for the project, but even with a 45-metre limit, we can go ahead with the plan.”
Like hospitals, schools too have a height restriction of 30 metre. Officials said the state government was considering amending the norms for schools as well. The state government had imposed the height cap of 30 metre in 2011 after a fire at Kolkata’s AMRI Hospital that killed 89 people.
Mhaiskar said, “With the increased height ceiling, hospitals will have to rely less on external fire fighting mechanisms and instead ensure that the building itself fights fire. There should be sprinklers that will go on at the slightest hint of smoke, circuit breakers to prevent fire from spreading and floors be made fire resistant. Hospitals will have to follow norms set by the US-based National Fire Protection Association.”
The Cabinet also unanimously agreed that the state government should give grants to local bodies to augment the fire-fighting capacity.
Plan for a 19-storey building with 16 floors of super-specialty services such as plastic surgery, neuro-surgery, cardio-vascular, thoracic, urology, oncology, radiotherapy and immuno-haematology is in the offing. Building to come up in place of two old hostels. Additional hospital will share burden of existing hospital, which sees over 200 surgeries and 1,000 admission every day. Hospital has called for demolition tenders and will open them as soon as it gets the height approved.
Plans for a new hospital building still in its initial phase. The hospital administration plans to gradually shift all its services to the new building. Initial plans involve shifting of clinical and trauma department. From 1,600 beds, hospital plans to expand to more than 3,000 beds.
The redevelopment, planned in 2006, was significantly delayed due to the height restriction. Having scaled down plans, the hospital is expected to open phase-wise in April. The hospital will help divert patients from city’s tertiary-care three civic hospitals, KEM, Sion, and Nair, towards the suburbs.