EVEN as the city’s new blueprint is expected to redefine Mumbai sky-line with a spurt in high-rises, BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte termed it as a “pragmatic” concept aimed at resolving the mismatch between the demand and supply for affordable housing in the city.
The Development Plan (DP) 2034 has substantially increased the floor space index or FSI for the entire city up to a maximum of 8. FSI is the ratio of the permissible built-up area to the plot area. For the first time, it has introduced the concept of variable FSI, linking the concept to transit-oriented-development (TOD).
Kunte said, “DP 1991 viewed FSI as a means to control density, this concept has however remained unsuccessful in all these years. With variable FSI, we want to meet the demand-supply mismatch in the market. As economists also point out that once supply of a commodity increases, the costs will also scale down creating affordable housing for all citizens.” Though Kunte pointed that prices will depend on respective market conditions, their aim was to augment the supply.
However, the idea of linking higher FSI to affordable housing has only invited criticism from urban experts. Aravind Unni, architect and planner, YUVA said, “There are reports which confirm that there are more than one lakh vacant houses in this city. These remain vacant because of the escalating costs in the city. So there is no mismatch between demand and supply in the city, rather it is the question of making these spaces affordable for people as the market will not cater to the needs of Mumbaikars.”
While the overall phenomenal increase in FSI is not indexed to provision of social and physical infrastructure that may also not augur a common citizen’s quality of life, Kunte said that BMC can meet all the demands well in time. “We have the Gargai-Pinjal project that will improve water services, we are upgrading the sewage system with the Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project (MSDP) II. We have made a projection that Mumbai’s population will be 14 million by 2034 and we are sure of meeting all the infrastructure demands,” he said.
On the BMC’s plans to turn Aarey milk colony into a economic hub, Kunte said, “The city has no scope for expansion as it is surrounded by sea on all three sides. Therefore, it is necessary that we make essential use of the land available. However, the plan has been created on a democratic platform and if stakeholders have issues, we will give due consideration to their opinions.” The commissioner maintained a similar stand on BMC’s idea of including institutions like Raj Bhavan, VJTI, Filmcity, Navy Nagar and a tower of silence in the “open spaces” category, though they are ‘inaccessible’ to public.