Now 35% compensatory FSI likely for Mumbai City

Residential buildings at Mumbai may get up to 35% compensatory FSI over and above the permissible construction limit after the town planning department tweaked BMC chief Subodh Kumar’s proposal to overhaul Mumbai’s building laws. The FSI or floor space index defines how much can be built on a plot.

The department’s recommendation, if approved by the state government, could come as a relief for city builders because Kumar’s plan offered 25% extra FSI if developers paid a 100% premium for it. Builders were unhappy as the commissioner’s proposal also included the 10% balcony area, which was always available free of FSI and without payment of premium. They said Kumar’s new proposal amounted to just 15% extra FSI.

However, there is still no clarity if the premium will now sought to be charged on the free-of-FSI balcony areas. The commissioner is likely to insist that premium be charged on the balcony areas too if the overall compensatory FSI is increased to 35%.

Several developers are saying that the compensatory FSI for commercial buildings — proposed at 15% — be increased to 25%. Why this discrimination between commercial and residential developments., that compensatory FSI for commercial development should be more than residential ones, considering various planning aspects and essential requirements. The BMC plans to charge a 200% premium on compensatory FSI for commercial buildings.

Kumar’s proposal, which has caused a stir within Mumbai’s powerful builders’ lobby, was whetted by the Deputy Director of the Town Planning Department, who heard 900 suggestions and objections from citizens, architects and associations representing developers. The department’s own recommendations will be submitted to the State Urban Development Department next week, after which the new policy is expected to be approved by the end of November 2011. The BMC hopes to earn annual revenue of Rs 2,000 crore to Rs 3,000 crore by charging a premium on this compensatory FSI.

Kumar is the first civic chief in over a decade who attempted to curb the discretionary powers vested in the municipal commissioner to sanction building concessions. Earlier, municipal commissioners liberally cleared projects with unusually large flower beds, voids, lily ponds and car decks. These areas are not included in the building’s FSI and it allowed developers to build an additional 50% to 80% above the permitted built-up area. The developer would sell these free spaces to buyers at market rate and then encourage them to illegally amalgamate these areas to make the apartment bigger. For instance, the flower bed area or a car deck was often shown as part of the living room or bedroom by the builder.

One of the biggest modus operandi of some builders was to show a free-of-FSI car parking deck on each floor. The car deck, each 1,500 to 2,000 sq ft large, would be sold to the flat buyer with the understanding that he could then merge this area into the apartment to make it larger. The BMC has now proposed that car deck areas be included in the building’s FSI. “Any additional parking floor in excess of what is required shall be counted in the FSI,’’ it said.

“The suggestions seem to be wise. With the specifications in place it leaves very limited chance for builders to bend the rules without going into blatantly illegal work. Little Room for Manoeuvre Extravagant elevation features and flower beds are now not allowed to extend beyond 1.2 m of the building.

Earlier, commissioners permitted these protrusions in excess of 3m, which were later misused by flat owners Voids within the building, which were sometimes as large as 1.5 m to 4m, are totally banned as people would illegally fill up these voids and extend their apartment provision for a servant’s toilet at every floor level (free of FSI) has also been cancelled as flat owners merged them into their living area.

This facility is now permitted only at mid-landing of the staircase Swimming pools and lily ponds are no longer sanctioned in a flat. These amenities can now be provided only on the terrace or at ground level, which is open to the sky.

-      Adv. R. P. Rathod.