From Mumbai to New York PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 22 October 2011 00:00
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Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s decision to offer builders in suburbs an additional 0.33 FSI (floor space index is the ratio between built-up area allowed and the plot size) on payment of a premium is a step in the right direction, but falls far short of what the city needs. Right now, compared to an FSI of 1.33 in the island city, that in the suburbs is 1, with the proviso than an additional 1 can be bought through what are called transfer of development rights (TDR). TDRs are given to builders when they develop slums, do cluster development, build car parks, gardens and so on. Over a period of time, however, with the TDR market getting cartelised, TDR rates soared. By offering 0.33 FSI on payment of a premium, Chavan has reduced the demand for TDR and so crashed the prices—to that extent, builders who had to pay exorbitant prices for TDRs will now be able to offer flats at lower rates.

While that’s a good thing, Mumbai needs a lot more housing than is currently envisaged. Mumbai’s FSI of 1.33 contrasts ill with 15 in the central business district of New York, up to 25 for the same in Singapore and 10 in Seoul. Interestingly, FSI in Mumbai was set at 4.5 at the point of introduction in 1964, but it kept falling with politicians/planners fearing higher FSIs would attract more outsiders and choke the city. As it happened, the outsiders never stopped coming in and the city got choked without enough high-rises coming up. Yet, you see none of this choking in New York or Singapore or Seoul. That’s because these cities have well-developed infrastructure, whether roads, sewerage, or piped water and other utilities. Why not link higher FSI, substantially higher FSIs, to development of such facilities? Piecemeal plans have bought Mumbai to a chaotic pass, and we may have to keep on living with more of the same unless some bold thinking is done.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 February 2012 06:47 )

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