New development plan for Mumbai hailed

Mumbai: The long-awaited Development Plan 2034 for Mumbai will create eight million jobs and one million affordable homes with the focus being on vertical in a space-starved city.

The plan also underlines that no compromises will be made on preserving certain open spaces and green zones — including mangroves, hills, marshy lands and creeks.

An important aspect of the plan is that it opens up No Development Zones (NDZ) and salt pans for development — earmarking 2,100 hectares of NDZ redesignated as Special Development Zones and 320 hectares of salt pan land for constructing one million affordable houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yajana — an ambitious project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide housing for all.

In a city that has seen chaos due to fast-paced growth, it is hoped that the government succeeds with this new blueprint, which replaces the 1991 development plan.

Redevelopment is the answer as the government has decided to go for vertical growth by offering a Floor Space Index (FSI) of the in the island city for private residential societies and not just for redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings.

This is meant to “repopulate” the island city where there has been a drop in the population by 7-8 per cent according to the Census 2011.

FSI in the suburbs will remain at 2.5.

FSI is ratio between the area of a built up area to the area of the plot or land on which a building stands. Freeing of additional land will give an impetus to affordable housing without compromising on the environmental aspect, said Surendra Hiranandani, CMD, House of Hiranandani. “The government is carrying out large infrastructure development projects for the city for the first time since independence,” he said.

“If the approval system for building plans could be simplified, the Development Plan and Development Control Regulations would be effective in bringing about real change. India stands at a low rank of 181 out of 189 countries in ease of getting construction permits as per the World Bank.”

The plan allows for double FSI for office buildings from 2.5 to 5, which means that on a plot of 1,000 square metre, a 5,000 square-metre area of office can be built. The aim is to create more office space to generate more jobs.

Separate provisions have been made for gaothans, koliwadas and tribal hamlets where the indigenous population has been living for decades and want to extend or redevelop their homes. Interestingly, residents who have carried out alterations like enclosing flower beds, niches, drying areas and toilet ducts, that were not allowed earlier, will now be regularised.

The plan also looks at the need to address special groups: old age homes, shelters for the homeless, activity areas for children and neighbourhood care centres.

The new plan also allows public institutions to use 20 per cent of their space for art and culture and even allows single screen cinema halls to be used for any other form of art and entertainment.

The good news about this plan is that government heeded to citizen activism for saving open spaces but the bad news, say many, is opening up no development zones for affordable housing — which could be misused as in the case of opening up of mill land in central Mumbai — that now hold only unaffordable, luxury residential complexes.


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