Is higher FSI a solution for Slum Redevelopment Schemes?! New slum Policy in Mumbai!

Shared by Nidhi Singh nee Batra, PRIA

MUMBAI: The state government has formally increased the floor space index (FSI) for slum rehabilitation projects from 2.5 to a maximum of 4.

The state urban development department issued a notification on Friday after it got an approval from chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who also heads the department.

As per the notification, projects involving all high-density slums-those having over 650 tenements per hectare-are entitled to an FSI of 4, whereas those with lower tenement density are entitled to 3.

Senior officials from the urban development department said that the notification highlights that all procedural formalities concerning the higher FSI move are now complete.

After the move to increase size of each rehabilitation tenement for slum dwellers from 225 sq ft to 269 sq ft in 2009, slum redevelopment projects were allowed higher FSI.

A notification under section 154 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act ( MRTP), 1966, was issued at that time to allow it to implement the provision pending completion of procedural formalities, including invitation of suggestions and objections from citizens.

These procedural formalities have now been completed and a formal notification issued, a senior state official said.

FSI is a development tool that determines the extent of construction permitted on a plot. It is a ratio of permissible built-up to the total area of the plot. A higher FSI would allow developers additional construction on slum land.

As per the notification, approvals for redevelopment projects with higher tenement density will be cleared by the state government. The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) retains powers to approve schemes with lower tenement density.

Architect P.K. Das of Mumbai was however had once written that :

The Slum Redevelopment Authority (SRA) in its present form needs to be extinguished as it has become a cesspool of corruption and has completely deviated from its original mandate and has become a tool in the hands of the private builders. The principal of cross-subsidy and grant of TDR to the developer who rehabilitates the slums should continue but must be primarily promoted by the nodal government organizations like BMC, MHADA, Railways on whose land the encroachment has occurred. Development by private builders of slum lands must end as it has only resulted in skewed development.

What is the truth?!

At the same time, people are hopeful that Mumbai’s new slum rehabilitation policy may do away with developers’ proxy war!

With key infrastructure projects in Mumbai hitting a dead end as the rehabilitation of project-affected slumdwellers is turning increasingly complex, officials and urban planners are finally waking up to the need to rethink the government’s slum policy, egged on by the fact that with the poor success of existing schemes and growing slum population, the challenge of creating a slum-free financial capital is galloping out of reach.

In line with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s view that monetising the value of encroached lands should bring something into state coffers, a new policy note under discussion suggests key departures from existing schemes. Returning the role of planning to the government, the proposed policy suggests that all of the city’s slums be divided into independently developed clusters of two to five hectares by a planning agency such as the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. These would be auctioned through a tendering process. Builders pre-registered with the government will be invited to apply for tenders in the form of built-up area to be handed over to the state and a premium that may be a percentage of the land value.

“While drawing up of clusters helps achieve comprehensiveness in planning, the proposed policy gives priority to people’s participation, calling for empanelled NGOs and architects, to be paid by the SRA or other agency, to assist in the formation of slumdwellers’ societies and drawing up of building plans,” said Principal Secretary (Housing) Gautam Chatterjee. “The involvement of the private sector comes at a later stage when the plan goes for bids. The same architect continues as a legacy to the developer.” Chatterjee says this could do away with proxy wars between developers — a key reason for litigation.

In the 15 years that the SRA has been at work in Mumbai, working on the existing cross-subsidy pattern under which private developers get incentive floor space index and the right to build free sale apartments in return for rehousing slumdwellers in situ, the agency has built less than 1,70,000 homes. That’s a far cry from not only to the city’s slum population of 8.6 million people, but also the original target of 5 lakh homes in five years.

Officials have pointed out that the Afzalpurkar committee report of 1995, based on which the SRA was designed, called for a comprehensive review after 10 years, which was never done. Experts say that the idea of a comprehensive, city-wide rehabilitation plan could solve the problem of only slums occupying high-value lands getting picked by developers.

Activists and urban planners are pleading that if a review of the SRA policy is finally being undertaken — and this would be the first review since the ‘free houses for slumdwellers’ policy was introduced in 1997 — then a piecemeal approach should be avoided this time.

“Whatever you may desire, slumdwellers declared ineligible for rehabilitation do not disappear into thin air,” says Simpreet Singh, an activist with the Ghar Bachoa Ghar Banao Aandolan. Any new policy must first rethink the free homes policy, he stresses, adding that the policy is an incentive to corruption among builders, officials and slumdwellers, leading to inflated lists of beneficiaries and dummy slumdwellers.

Mumbai airport’s private operators and government officials trying to get other projects off the ground admit that the problem of post-1995 slumdwellers is a crucial one. But a committee under the chief secretary formed in the aftermath of a protest in the suburban Golibar area did not yield a concrete solution.

The policy suggests that all slumdwellers be rehabilitated, but incentive FSI be limited to those deemed eligible as per current laws. That could mean mandating post-1995 slumdwellers to pay something for their new homes, a politically untenable proposition. “The problem until now has been that poll promises are designed to woo slumdwellers while policy has been designed to woo builders,” said a Congress leader from a slum constituency.

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One thought on “Is higher FSI a solution for Slum Redevelopment Schemes?! New slum Policy in Mumbai!

  1. Anonymous July 5, 2012 at 6:43 am Reply

    Wanted to share my paper titled Parallel Structures of Decentralisation in the Mega City Context of Urban India: Participation or Exclusion?

    in Space and Polity

    Volume 16, Issue 1, 2012

    Special Issue: ASIAN CITIES IN AN ERA OF DECENTRALISATION

    Abstract. This paper attempts to understand how decentralisation unfolds in the mega city context of urban India as a result of shifts in policy and practice since the 1990s through a study of recent civil society organisation partnerships with the urban local bodies in Mumbai. Using the cases of Advanced Locality Management (ALM) groups and Local Area Citizens’ Groups (LACGs) as instances of parallel structures of decentralisation, it argues that such civil society organisations have usually been spearheaded by the professional middle classes and have transformed the public sphere in mega cities. However, a closer look reveals that many of the features of these state–civil-society partnerships are inherently exclusionary of lower socioeconomic city residents. Resultantly, these go against the letter and spirit of democratic decentralisation as envisaged in the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act 1992, which provides the framework for urban decentralisation in India. New initiatives in decentralisation under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission—a major urban development programme launched in 2005—have further rendered the space for decentralised participation extremely fragmentary.

    Here is the link

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13562576.2012.698448

    Regards
    Dr Binti Singh
    Yokohama, Japan

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