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Seeing through the FSI fog

Much needs to be said over the fast track decisions announced by the government before the imposition of the Code of Conduct for the civic polls. The hapless Mumbaikar, unable to keep up with the nitty-gritty of the revisions rolled out by BMC's building proposal department for residential construction, is left scratching the head, trying to figure out the impact of the changes mooted in the Development Control Rules. 

The proposal to compute areas of balcony, flower beds, terrace, voids, niches etc in the FSI by charging a premium is being touted as the panacea to bring down realty prices. But, it must be noted that charging FSI for these spaces -- given free till now -- at a percentage of the Ready Reckoner rates (to the extent of 35%) is estimated to rake in Rs 1,000 crore for BMC. 

The civic body justifies the move by arguing that these areas, which were not supposed to be inhabited (except balcony), were being misused by being used for that very purpose, as developers merged these spaces and sold them at the rate of habitable area. 

So the BMC, instead of acting against erring developers or demolishing these areas, is trying to legalise an illegal act and raking in the moolah, even as the burden is passed on to the purchaser, all because the BMC is loathe to curb illegal activities. 

Consider also the decision to allot 25% extra parking space which still falls short of residents' needs given the increasing number of car owners. This is also a case of fear of misuse of parking area. 

The decision related with reduction of floor height in flats and shops from 4.2 m to 3.9 m is again riddled with the apprehension of misuse. For there is always the possibility that shopkeepers may lower the plinth to increase the height. The apprehensions do nothing but offer a bonanza to developers at the buyer's cost. 

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