The 'burbs will soon fly as high as town

The soon-to-be-implemented Sec 33 (7A) promises more FSI to builders in the suburbs; the move is expected to create more housing opportunities, say experts

About 4,000 old privately owned buildings in Mumbai's suburbs are set to benefit from a new amendment under Sec 33 (7) of Development Control Rules (DC Rules). This will mean more FSI for builders, who have been shying away from redevelopment projects in the suburbs.

Under Sec 33 (7), a builder redeveloping old buildings, gets an added benefit of using 50 per cent of the FSI spent on rehabilitating existing tenants. For instance, if the FSI a builder acquired was 3 (the minimum FSI required to rehabilitate tenants under this section), there could be a total of 4.5 FSI in the building.

The extra FSI is used to construct the saleable part of the building, to reclaim the money spent on rehabilitating tenants and ultimately, make profit. Apart from this, a builder can also buy Fungible FSI, which allows space for additional infrastructure like flowerbeds and staircases, to the tune of 35 per cent of the total FSI by paying a premium to the BMC.

Currently, only old buildings up to Mahim (with a minimum age of 15 years) enjoy the promises of this section. With the introduction of 33 (7A), the same options will be made available to those in the suburbs. With builders wooed by 33 (7A), it is expected to create more homes in the city. The government claims that the draft is ready and plans to implement it before monsoon hits the city.

Speaking at a press conference on housing issues at the MHADA office in Kala Nagar earlier in the week, Prakash Mehta, the state housing minister, said that this is a welcome move for owners, tenants, and builders in the suburbs who were often at odds with each other over redevelopment. "With 33 (7A), residents and tenants won't have to compromise as they used to when their building went in for redevelopment. There are some 9,000 buildings, of which if we leave out MHADA buildings, then 4,000 private buildings can apply this section to their redevelopment projects."

Mehta added that the BMC will have the final say on deciding the FSI depending on each case. It's a good move, say the city's architects. Arqam Shaikh of ARC Associates said, "Currently the builders have limited scope in the suburbs, but with this, builders will be able to satisfy the tenants with larger homes, and will also have more space to make profits."

Realtor Prakkash Rohira of Karma Realtors in the suburbs, claimed that redeveloping buildings in the current scenario in most of the cases isn't feasible, hence, builders do not take up projects. "The lack of profitable FSI was one of the reasons why developers weren't interested in redevelopment," he said. The government also plans to take this scheme to Thane, Kalyan, Dombivali and beyond, in a phase-wise scheme.

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