The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority’s (MHADA) tall plans to construct castles in the sky in Virar may run into turbulent weather, as it still awaits permission to construct an additional 10 floors. MHADA announced the affordable housing project of 5,400 flats recently, and has also scheduled the lottery for these flats in December. They plan to construct high-rises up to 22 or 24 floors.
However, the Virar-Vasai Municipal Corporation (VVMC) has a height restriction that caps buildings at 24 metres (ground plus seven storeys). Using the commissioner’s discretionary power, the permissible height can be increased to 45 metres (ground plus 14 storeys), but it still leaves the housing body short of 10 floors. MHADA requires a sanction of 70 metres.
Govardhan Rathod, VVMC commissioner, claims that the corporation gave MHADA permissions as per the existing Development Control Rules (DCR). “We haven’t allowed MHADA to construct anything beyond the permissible limit. However, better information can be provided by the deputy director of the town planning department,” said Rathod.
Reddy, the deputy director, said, “The FSI in Virar is 1, and as per the DCR one is allowed to construct 24-metre tall buildings. The commissioner using his discretionary powers can allow constructions up to 45 metres. But, under any circumstance we don’t allow construction above this height, because we don’t have fire fighting equipment that can tend to flats above 45 metres.”
Bhausaheb Dangde, chief officer, MHADA’s Konkan Board, said he is aware of the existing DCR and expects the corporation to relax the rules for their consideration. They have even informed the government about their requirement. “We are in talks with the concerned parties and expect that we will be given permission till 70 metres,” said Dangde, who provided floor plan details of the Virar project.
While Dangde is confident of securing the required approvals, his officers are on the fence. “We have not even constructed seven storey buildings yet. The lottery is scheduled for December and we don’t even have the required permissions for constructing 24-storey buildings.
We are afraid that we may have to cut down the number of flats. According to MHADA’s policy, we provide the house number and building number during the lottery and if we don’t know whether we will have homes on 15th floor in future, how can we allot a flat?” said the MHADA officer, on condition of anonymity.