BMC plans to release 3,000 hectares from NDZ, greens upset

Environmentalists are upset with the BMC’s plan of releasing land from No Development Zones. The BMC recently released its draft Development Control Regulations (DCR) in which it has proposed unlocking of around 3,000 hectares of the 13,000 hectares - worth NDZs marked in the previous, DCR 1991. This land will be divided into three parts: 33% will have affordable housing, 33% will have public open spaces and 34% will be kept with the owner. The idea is to have public open spaces in the middle of the residential areas. Besides, the first two thirds will also have reservations for institutional areas, social, medical and educational amenities.

However, environmentalists feel it is a builder-driven DP. Stalin D said, “They have completely destroyed the spirit of NDZ that were reserved to improve the quality of life. Mumbai needs quality of life in terms of open spaces and pure air. The government is not doing anything in that direction. I agree that we need affordable housing. That end can be achieved by redeveloping slums and chawls.”

Anand Pendharkar said even in the past, precious parcels of land were given away for projects that were never completed. He said, “Builders were favoured for mass housing projects that are still underway, years later. How do we know the new projects will not go the same way? The state is supposed to provide for clean air, clean water, accommodation for its citizens for free. But these days, citizens have to pay for everything. After all, it is the public exchequer’s money.”

The BMC is in process of revising the Development Plan released last year. As part of the revision process, the civic body has released the Development Control Regulations (DCR) in parts. The last part containing three chapters was released on Sunday. Also, an attachment to the already released chapter no VII was released, which listed the way in which development will be governed in the No Development Zones.

According to section 34.3.4 of the DCR, if the owner opts to develop the affordable housing and amenities himself, the owner shall be entitled to an FSI of 1 of the gross plot area. This means, if the total size of the plot was 3,000 sq mts, the owner gets to develop 3,000 sq mts on 34% of his share of land. “The owner would also be compensated for all infrastructure developed by him that is not attributable to infrastructure pertaining to the owner’s share of land and construction of the AH tenements & other amenities... In addition, the owner would be eligible to receive the sale proceeds of 15 % of AH units from MCGM after deduction of administrative charges,” the provision says. But if he opts out of the deal, he only gets an FSI of 0.8 or 2,400 sq mts of 3000 sq mts.

Commissioner speak
Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said, “Yes, this is an extra incentive we are providing to developers because without that, they may not come forward (to create affordable housing). As per rules, only after the owner hands over the affordable housing tenements (if he has agreed to do so) to us can he develop his own plot. He has to develop affordable housing (on 33 % of the land) within three years, following which his own project will come up (on 34% of the land) in the subsequent years. Until then, he will have invested in the former without any returns. Besides, he will have to invest in his own plot and wait for the returns. And if the builder has taken a loan for these, he will be paying a lot of interest. So the idea is to pay him 15% in order to compensate him for his investment."

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