Mumbai/Bangalore: The Maharashtra government will soon increase the floor space index (FSI), permitting developers to build taller buildings to promote the development of integrated townships around the state’s densely populated cities such as Mumbai and Pune.
“We will come out with a higher FSI scheme very soon, which will be a major step in promoting affordable housing,” chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who also heads the urban development ministry, said on Friday. “Currently, FSI offered for townships outside the municipal limit is 1 but by offering higher FSI and putting the responsibility of developing infrastructure like road connectivity, schools, colleges, on the promoter, we can reduce congestion in cities like Mumbai.”
FSI indicates permissible construction on any plot. If FSI is 1 for a particular plot and its size is 1,000 sq. ft then the construction permissible is 1,000 sq. ft. The greater the FSI, the taller a building can be on a given plot of land.
Higher FSI will benefit townships in areas such as Pune or the outskirts of Mumbai, where valuations are higher, according to Sanjay Dutt, executive managing director, South Asia, Cushman and Wakefield. He said that higher FSI means constructing more and, hence, the project becomes costlier, which may not be viable if a township is being built in Nashik, for example.
“Townships are not so popular today because they involve large investments. But governments like promoting townships because the infrastructure in the area such as roads, sewage, water connection gets developed by the developer,” said Dutt.
After the 2008-09 slowdown, several developers found it difficult to continue building townships because of the huge capital involved and the long period of construction entailed. Many real estate firms sold them off to other developers or abandoned projects.
Chavan said that since there is no consensus on defining a high-rise building, an expert panel has been appointed to do so. The high-rise committee, which consists of experts and bureaucrats, examines building proposals for issues such as structural safety, fire-safety norms and the impact of such construction on traffic in the area among others.
“In fact, it is my personal view that we should do away with the high-rise committee eventually, and certifying structural safety should be given to reputed institutes like the Indian Institute of Technology and foreign firms, which have experience in this field,” he said.
Chavan also mentioned that another panel will be formed to grant faster environmental clearances for real estate projects.
A Mumbai developer, who didn’t want to be named, said there already were two panels to clear projects that require environment approval and now a third one had been set up to facilitate the process.
“With more than 500 projects waiting to get clearance in the state, the process is only getting lengthier,” he said.
Confederation of Real Estate Development Association of India’s national president Lalit Kumar Jain said that the urban development ministry’s notification a few months back urged state governments to increase FSI, optimize the usage of land and protect green cover.
Even though the move will help the various townships that are coming up in Pune and Navi Mumbai, the main problem that developers in Mumbai face is delay in approvals, Jain said.
“There should be a permanent committee that will quickly give out approvals. Instead, we have committees that meet once a month and clear 12-13 projects, that, too, not the first time, while hundreds of projects still wait to be approved,” said Jain.