MUMBAI: Will the city finally see varying floor space index (FSI) being introduced for diverse areas in the city or will it opt for inclusionary housing, where every real estate project will have to reserve a few flats for affordable housing?
In a slew of measures likely to meet with the approval of urban planners and housing experts, the civic body’s preparatory studies on revising the city’s development plan (DP) have proposed a new approach to construction and housing issues in the city.
The report, which was presented by BMC chief Sitaram Kunte to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, has proposed to do away with uniform FSI of 1.33 throughout the city, which is currently the norm. Instead, it has proposed to link the area’s dynamics and the plot area to the FSI that it could be granted. What this means is that how tall a building can be will depend not just on the plot area but also the area’s infrastructure and the ability to handle the density that the construction will bring in.
According to urban planners, internationally, variable FSI has become the norm. “Variable FSI is a step in the right direction. But, t hey should connect the FSI to be granted to the density of that area and arrive at a solid formula to decide on the FSI to be given in each case,” said architect and urban researcher Neera Adarkar.
Along with variable FSI, the report has also proposed to initiate the concept of ‘inclusionary housing’, something that the state housing policy, 2006, had proposed, but failed to implement.
The report proposes that a certain percentage of the total built-up area of realty projects be reserved for affordable housing. These houses could then be taken over by a government agency, which could then allot it for affordable housing either through ownership or rental basis.
The 2011 census shows that 42% of the city continues to live in slums, which occupy a fraction of the city’s land, leading to inhuman conditions and high density. The report suggests that inclusionary housing could provide more affordable housing and thereby, reduce slums in the city.
Residents in the lurch, state yet to regularise homes on forest land
WHEN WE PURCHASED THE FLATS, THEY WERE ALL LEGAL. ONLY LATER DID THE FOREST DEPARTMENT DECLARE IT A RESERVED AREA PRAKASH PADIKKAL, president, Hillside Residents Welfare Association (HIRWA)
MUMBAI: Even as the state is trying to save formulate a plan to regularise 96 tenements at the Campa Cola compound in Worli, there are approximately 5 lakh residents who continue to live in uncertainty on forest lands in the suburbs despite having paid the regularisation fee for their homes.
“When we purchased the flats, it was all le gal. Only later did the forest department declare it a reserved area,” said Prakash Padikkal, president, Hillside Residents Welfare Association (HIRWA), adding that the state ought to issue an ordinance and provide relief to residents. “Although the redevelopment of the region has come to a standstill, the decision was never conveyed to us,” he said.
According to residents, the state has been giving them a cold shoulder for the past eight years even though all permissions for redevelopment had been given by civic authorities.
The areas i n contention include Mulund, Nahur, the stretch from Borivli to Goregaon and Thane, all of which have been demarcated as plots for land use in the civic body’s development plan. It was only following a public interest litigation by an environmental group in 2002 that the state clarified it as forest land.
According to Vishal Kamath, whose family had booked a flat in Mulund in 2004 but are yet to get possession of their apartment, “There is no relief in sight, but we have to continue to pay EMI’s to for the loans taken by us,” said Kamath.
Residents claimed they have even paid the net present value (NPV) as was directed by the Supreme Court-appointed central empowered committee. While at first it was charged at Rs6 a square foot, netting the state Rs110 crore, it was later revised to Rs9 a square foot. This was because the areas were adjoining the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
However Sachin Ahir, state minister for housing, said, “We are not favouring anyone. The residents of this belt will be taken into confidence about the decision taken.”
HC to Bombay Dyeing: Hand over mill land to BMC, Mhada
66,651 Sq M Plot To Be Used For Affordable Housing, Open Spaces
Mumbai:In a bid to end the stalemate over development of Bombay Dyeing’s sprawling mill properties at Wadala and Lower Parel, the Bombay high court, in an interim order on Tuesday, asked the textile major to hand over around 66,651 square metres of land to the BMC and Mhada.
The land at Spring Mills in Wadala will be handed over to the BMC and Mhada, and is to be used for public housing, accommodation for mill workers, open spaces and other public amenities. This would allow Bombay Dyeing to go ahead with its redevelopment plans for the entire land at Lower Parel and its share of plot at Wadala. The court said its interim order would “ensure availability of land to public authorities and also allow Bombay Dyeing to redevelop its land”.
The court said it would decide on the applications filed by unions over valuation of the land on Wednesday. The unions had, in their applications, claimed the value of land at Lower Parel was higher than at Wadala, and had opposed the BMC’s decision to allow the company to amalgamate the land.
In the main petition, the unions have further claimed that more area of the plots should have been earmarked as textile mill land so that there is a corresponding increase in the share of land to be handed over to BMC and Mhada.
Tuesday’s order would mean the city would get land for public purposes. Around 32,828 square metres of land would be surrendered to the BMC, which has to use it for open spaces, recreation grounds and public amenities. For Mhada, which is facing a huge land crunch in the city, the 33,822 square metres of land that would be handed over to it, would ensure construction of affordable houses in the heart of central Mumbai.
On its part, Bombay Dyeing has ambitious plans to redevelop its mill land. The plans include a 38-storey residential-cum-commercial and retail, IT spaces and a hotel.
In March 2010, the BMC had issued stopwork notices to Bombay Dyeing after it failed to hand over land at its erstwhile mills in Wadala and Lower Parel that was meant for the BMC and Mhada. The notice was issued following a direction from the monitoring committee that oversees redevelopment of city’s mill lands. Bombay Dyeing challenged the notices in high court.
In May 2012, the high court ruled that Bombay Dyeing would have to surrender land to the BMC and Mhada.
The Supreme Court dismissed the textile company’s plea challenging the verdict. The BMC then approved the amalgamation of the Wadala and Lower Parel plots.
The unions then moved the high court claiming that more land was due to come to the BMC and Mhada. They also alleged the value of the land at Lower Parel was worth more than the plot at Wadala.
REDEVELOPMENT POSSIBLE: Bombay Dyeing’s Spring Mills land in Wadala
Fresh policy set to boost cluster redevpt, extend it across Mumbai
Govt Plans Incentives, May Help Acquire Land
Cluster redevelopment is set to get a boost with a new policy offering more benefits to both developers and residents and making projects more attractive than standalone redevelopment.
For instance, the bigger a cluster undergoing redevelopment, the larger will be the flats of individual owners. Moreover, it will be easier for housing societies to band together and negotiate with a developer. Now, a developer buys out properties piecemeal and then takes up cluster redevelopment.
“While the minimum area will remain one acre, the larger the area taken up, the bigger will be the flats that residents can look forward to. The minimum size of a flat will be 300 sq feet,” said a source.
The proposed policy that will replace the existing cluster redevelopment policy under Development Control Rules 33(9) is likely to apply across Mumbai and not just south Mumbai that has a large number of old and dilapidated buildings, added sources.
The BMC will mark the one acre areas that can form a cluster. Several such clusters can then come together for a mega-cluster redevelopment. “Unlike the old policy, the focus this time is on land-pooling. The government plans incentives to ensure more societies come together for redevelopment. If there is some hurdle, it will help with land acquisition,” said the source.
Along with basic size, the government may also define the incentives to be provided to mega clusters to avoid disputes and litigation.
A committee including the civic and MMRDA commissioners and the Slum Rehabilitation Authority chief and led by urban development principal secretary Manu Kumar Srivastava is reworking the policy. It has held consultations with the Property Owners Association and the Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry.
The sources said the urban renewal scheme is likely to comprise three levels of planning: macro (broad zoning of land and arterial roads), meso (the BMC’s development plan that identifies land use) and micro (for every cluster). The three will fit in, allowing the authorities control over how the city develops.
Developers who have started cluster redevelopment will have the option to migrate to the new policy.
The move comes as the 2009 cluster redevelopment policy failed to deliver. The ambitious Rs 5,000-crore Bhendi Bazaar project of the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust spread over 14.5 acres is going very slowly. So far, only five proposals have been approved and one at Parel implemented.
BIGGER FLATS, BETTER CITY PLANNING
OLD POLICY NEW POLICY
Minimum area one acre Minimum area one acre
Developer obtains consent from residents, purchases properties and seeks BMC permission for cluster redevelopment BMC may get to draw boundaries of clusters. Resident groups can come together to negotiate with builder for redevelopment Residents of various clusters can group together to form a mega cluster
Minimum flat size 300 sq feet. Larger flats at discretion of developer Minimum flat size 300 sq feet, but for mega clusters govt plans to offer larger flats Acquisition to be done by developer Govt to lay out options, including acquisition by the state to push redevelopment
No urban renewal scheme master plan. BMC has no control on city’s overall development Three-tier urban renewal scheme — a master plan, a development plan and a plan for every cluster. All redevelopment to be in sync with master plan. BMC to have control on overall development of city
Does not ensure enough public amenities. Skewed development
MUMBAI: After failing to fix leakage from the terrace for about 10 years, a housing society in Thane will now have to pay Rs5 lakh compensation to a member who lives on the top floor of the building within a month.
The Thane district consumer forum has also directed Chandravadan Co-operative Housing Society at Panchpakhadi to carry out necessary repairs and waterproofing work on their terrace within three months to ensure that there is no further damage in the flat belonging to Ulhas Karkare.
Karkare and wife Meena had approached the consumer forum in December 2008 after repeated complaints about the leakage in their flat from the building terrace and consequent damage caused to various household items did not yield any positive response.
The couple alleged that they first noticed the leakage in all the rooms, including the kitchen, in August 1998. Five years later, the water started seeping through slabs of their flat and continued till the time they approached the consumer forum.
Ultimately, after major cracks appeared on the wall in 2006, the housing society carried out repair and water-proofing work by spending Rs37 lakh. However, the next monsoon, cracks started appearing at different places and the leakage continued to damage Karkare’s flat, compelling him to shift the kitchen to their bedroom.
The housing society contested the complaint and denied allegations. It stated that necessary care was taken to stop the leakage. The society alleged that the complainants had carried out illegal changes in their flat, which resulted in the cracks in the walls.
The bench of forum president UV Jawalikar and member ND Kadam, however, rejected the society’s defence and held it guilty of deficiency in service for neglecting the complaint. It concluded that the documents and photographs clearly revealed the damage caused to the walls and household items in the flat, and also showed that the housing society had not taken any timely action to prevent it.
MMRDA-agent-politico nexus: Touts use RTI to usurp Mumbai woman's property
Agents find out about vacant properties lying with MMRDA, through RTI. Then they get the details of displaced people who have been allotted homes, and forge their documents to claim the flats. We trace one such victim, Emina D'Souza
The familiar housing scam keeps reinventing itself to rob citizens of their rights. This one pits an Andheri resident against an MMRDA-agent-politico nexus. If one allows his or her home or shop to be demolished so that,a road, a bridge or a flyover is constructed then in return they expect that the government would give them a home. That is what the government also does, but sadly the homes aren’t going to those who actually deserve to get it.
When the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) undertakes major infrastructure projects like the Metro or road building work, it must clear the route of all installations. If a house or a shop falls in the way and needs to be razed, theowner is compensated with a comparable property elsewhere. In 2004, a year before laying the Sahar Cargo Road in Andheri, the MMRDA had to demolish a shop in Parsiwada. The property belonged to one Tony D’souza. Tony had passed away four years ago at age 60, and his daughter Emina D’souza was the legal heir to the property.
The authority asked her to submit documents proving her ownership of the shop since before 1995, so it could offer her an alternate property. Emina handed in the paperwork and the shop was flattened in 2005. Eight years later, she still hasn’t got the 225 sq ft residential space she was promised in lieu of the shop.
This case, however, isn’t about the usually bureaucratic apathy. It gets murkier. It seems that the MMRDA had, in fact, issued a provisional allotment letter to the D’souzas in November 2010, duly signed by the metropolitan deputy collector. But Emina wasn’t aware the allotment had been made until we told her.
Suspiciously enough, the photo on the letter is neither Emina’s nor Tony’s. Instead there’s the picture of a young man who appears to be in his early 30s. “It’s a bogus allotment letter. Such things are commonplace in this trade,” said a senior MMRDA officer in the land department, filling us in on what may have gone down.In this case, Tony had been dead and Emina had stopped following up with the MMRDA. She said that she had received a phone call about the house some time back but nothing came of it. It was only after we informed her that she came to know of the allotment made in her name.
“A while ago, some people had called us and taken some details, but they never turned up or did anything further. I haven’t got any allotment letter till now,” said Emina, who has now moved from Andheri (East) to Kandivli with her family.
Ghost house: Building number 9 in Poonam Nagar in MMRDA Colony, where the D’souzas were allegedly allotted a new flat
According to the allotment letter, the D’souza family had been given room no 12 in building no 9 of Poonam Nagar in MMRDAColony. When MiD DAY visited the building, we found a lock on the door of room 12. The watchman said, “No one’s ever stayed here since the time the building was constructed.”
This reporter went and met MMRDA deputy collector A N Kargutkar, who had signed the allotment letter. Asked if it was his signature on the letter with MMRDA letterhead, he chose to keep mum and asked us to approach his senior, Vishram Patil, head of the department of rehabilitation. Patil claimed that it was a bogus letter. “If someone files a complaint, I would look into the matter,” he said, adding that he had received such complaints before.
So if the houses are empty, what do the agents do with them? A senior officer claimed that agents work in tandem with local politicians and public officials to sell off these homes for a price cheaper than the market rate. Many of MMRDA’s properties meant for project-affected people have been sold at Rs 10-15 lakh, and now, Rs 22-25 lakh, the official said.
No proper survey
He said such things come to pass because the properties aren’t surveyed and audited properly. “This is a mere example. There are thousands of such cases where MMRDA homes have been misused. There hasn’t been a proper survey for the Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Projects (MUIP), unlike the MUTP (transport) projects, where the World Bank has been involved. And because of these loopholes, the homes meant for eligible people are routinely misused.”
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday put an end to a three-year logjam, paving way for construction of public housing and open spaces in the heart of the city, while also allowing the developer Bombay Dyeing to retain a large parcel of land for its construction projects.
In accordance with rules governing the redevelopment of mills, the textile major was to hand over a portion of its lands at Lower Parel and Wadala mills to the civic body for maintaining as open spaces and to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) for construction of houses for mill workers and affordable housing for the public in equal proportions.
On a plea filed by Bombay Dyeing, the division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice MS Sanklecha allowed it to surrender proportionate land, 66,650 square metres, at one place — in Wadala — while retaining the property at Lower Parel.
Out of this, 32,828 sq m will go to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the balance 33,822 sq m will be taken over by Mhada.
As per a Bombay high court order of May 2012, which was later confirmed by the Supreme Court, the company had to surrender 25,775 sq m of land at Spring Mills in Wadala to the BMC and 7052 sq m at Lower Parel. It was also required to hand over Mhada 26,556 sq m of land at Wadala and 5770 sq m at Lower Parel.
The apex court had granted six months to the company to surrender the lands. However, the company sought to submit composite plans for both the lands, which have been accepted in-principle by the BMC and Mhada. The authorities had, however, asked the textile firm to seek clarification from the apex court, which referred the matter back to the high court.
The Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samitee, a union of mill workers, had opposed the move. Its counsel, advocate Sanjay Singhavi, submitted that the composite plans helped the company surrender cheaper land to the government bodies, while retaining the costlier parcel at Lower Parel.
Affordable homes not BMC’s priority- 60% of Mumbaiites live in slums, chawls
In a damning indication of the lopsided development in the city, a civic body report has revealed that 63% of Mumbai’s housing stock comprises slums, chawls and pavement dwellings, and more than 60% Mumbaiites live in houses less than 650 sq ft.
The BMC’s preparatory studies for revising the city’s development plan show that lack of affordable housing has meant that an overwhelming majority of its housing options lie in slums (45%), chawls (15%) and on the pavements (3%).
Only 28% of the housing stock falls under apartments, while 9% is public housing, which includes slum rehabilitation schemes. Quoting a 2010 research paper, the report says, “It is apparent that nearly half the population is unable to afford a house, even of minimum standards.”
MUMBAI: While the civic body might be honest in admitting its failure in providing enough affordable housing for the city’s burgeoning population, its refusal to take any corrective measures is more worrying, say planners and experts.
While the civic body’s preparatory study for revising the city’s development plan (DP) — which will serve as the blueprint for its growth for the next 20 years — are supposed to spell out strategies for dealing with these problems, many believe the document falls woefully short.
The report admits that 63% of the city’s housing stock is in the informal sector, comprising slums, chawls and even pavement dwellings, it also accepts that 50% of the population has household income of less than Rs20,000 per month.
The civic report does little to address the problem of affordable housing; one primary suggestion it makes is to initiate ‘inclusionary housing’, as part of which the BMC has proposed to make it mandatory for real estate developers to reserve a certain percent of the built-up area for affordable homes. This, however, is already a part of the 2006 state housing policy, but is yet to see the light of day.
Pankaj Joshi, executive director, Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), said, “The BMC’s document remains non-committal about what it plans to do, and instead, indulges only in tokenism about issues related to housing. Dangerously, the only way that the BMC intends to create affordable housing is through increasing the floor space index (FSI).”
The civic body’s document also repeatedly reiterates that redevelopment of the city is “the key strategy to the city’s development plan”, without delving into details about creating affordable housing.
Many also believe that the reason for the city’s skewed housing scenario lies in its failures in the past 20 years. For instance, in the P-North ward, an audit of its reservations in 1991 DP showed that while 492 acres were reserved for housing, less than half was actually acquired for the purpose, with public housing built on even less area.
Aravind Unni, non-profit Yuva’s architect-planner, said that part of the BMC’s failure lies in these reservations. “They provide very few reservations to begin with, and even out of these, only a fraction is used. As a result, the DP loses all significance in dealing with the problem of affordable housing.”
WHAT THE BMC’S DOCUMENT PLANS TO DO ABOUT HOUSING ISSUES?
Inclusionary housing: The BMC has proposed to instruct builders to reserve some percentage of build up area for affordable housing. This has been part of State housing policy since 2006, but not implemented
Variable FSI: The BMC wants to end ‘restrictive’ policies which, it believes, will ensure that rates come down. While this is widely speculative, experts believe it will only end up benefitting builders
SANTA CRUZ PROJECT ROW- Minority housing society members can’t obstruct redevelopment, says HC
Mumbai: The Bombay high court recently iterated that minority members cannot obstruct redevelopment and appointed a court receiver to take possession of three flats of those objecting to a Santa Cruz building’s redevelopment and hand over the apartments to the builder.
Justice R D Dhanuka said that as more than 3/4th majority of members passed a resolution and agreed to appoint a developer on terms and conditions agreed upon and recorded in the development agreement, the three dissenting flat-owners cannot stop the redevelopment project.
“It is clear that more than 3/4th majority of the society passed a resolution to get the buildings demolished and to get them redeveloped by appointment of the developer. (The flat-owners) who are in a minority, occupying three flats and few garages, cannot be permitted to obstruct the society or majority members from implementing the redevelopment project,” he said.
Since they have not challenged the resolution passed by the society at its special annual general meeting, each resolution was binding on them. He said that they cannot be allowed to act contrary to the resolution passed by the society’s general body and were bound to follow such resolutions.
The court cited earlier judgments and said that “merely because terms and conditions of development agreement were not acceptable to members in a minuscule minority, cannot be the basis not to abide by the decision of the overwhelming majority of the society’s general body”. The court referred to judgments which said that once a person becomes a cooperative society member he loses individuality and has no independent rights, except those given to him by rules and bye-laws.
The court was hearing an application filed by Calvin Properties, which had won a tender to redevelop Green Fields Housing Society on S V Road in Santa Cruz (W). The building, with 34 flats, was 48-yearsold and in a dilapidated condition.
As per the agreement signed in 2010, the developer agreed to construct a building and flat-owners would be rehoused there. The developer agreed to pay the flatowners a total of over Rs 9 crore. While 31 agreed to vacate their flats by April 2013, three claimed they were entitled to a larger area.
They claimed the agreement was not applicable to them as they had not signed it. But the court dismissed their pleas and also rejected their contention that the dispute could only be heard by a cooperative court.
The court said disputes the dissenting members had with the developer or society could be decided at appropriate proceedings. The court stayed its orders for three weeks.