When you lie flat on your back, the only way to look is up. So is the case with Developers when the Government and BMC are always ready with red carpet to accommodate them at any cost. At a time when demand for property is tepid and cash is hard to come by, Developers are looking at new ways to lure buyers. Building high-rise apartments seems to be the latest gambit to differentiate their projects from those of others.

The Civic Standing Committee of Mumbai had requested the Chief Minister of Maharashtra not to allow any increase in FSI and no high rise structures in Mumbai till 2013. The Committee also stressed not to permit any high rise structures in the city unless and until the new Development Plan (DP) is ready by 2013 and to continue with the current FSI until the DP is ready.

The Committee strongly emphasized the restraint that due to rapid and heavy construction activity in the city; there is heavy load on civic infrastructure. It is being heavily burdened by a lot of construction activity in the city mainly the redevelopment activities for housing societies. There is barely any improvement in water supply, drainage and sewage systems, health and fire services, roads, parking facilities. The slum rehabilitation schemes are adding to the load. With total utilization of increased in FSI, the burden on infrastructure will only increase.

However, contrary to the recommendations of the Civic Standing Committee, the Maharashtra Government, in an attempt to accommodate the Builders/Developers lobby, amended the Development Control Regulations (DCRs) for the State Capital City, Mumbai by introducing the Fungible FSI that now according to the new DCR Amendments, Balconies, Flower Beds, Terraces, Voids and Niches would now be counted in the Floor Space Index (FSI). To compensate for the loss of free-of-FSI areas, Fungible FSI to the extent of 35 per cent for Residential Development and 20 per cent for Industrial and Commercial Developments shall been allowed with premium.

Adding salt and pepper to the soup of the Developers, a further modification is in the offing that any building with a height of 30 meters (Nine Floors) will soon be categorized as a high-rise, an increase of 6 meters from the existing definition (24 meters or seven floors) with a reason that this is mainly to facilitate redevelopment of buildings on small plots, say BMC officials.

This is one of the modifications sought by Municipal Commissioner Subodh Kumar from the State Government last week after Builders and Developers complained of “Planning Constraints”. Once a building falls under the definition of high-rise, it has to comply with a slew of rules, mainly pertaining to Fire Safety Regulations.

In a letter on 26th March, 2012 from the Municipal Commissioner Subodh Kumar to the State Urban Development Department, it has been strongly recommended that the definition of multistoried buildings needs to be revised for buildings with heights over 30 meters and that in buildings up to 30 meters in height, the terrace floor of the building will be treated as the Refuge Area.