Can crumbling Mumbai still dream of becoming Shanghai? Yes, it can, think urban planners and developers. They say the cluster development scheme has the potential to turn the city around, provided the state government sincerely addresses the various technical issues pertaining to the ambitious model.
Urban development department officials say that the government needs to make some urgent modifications in the Development Control (DC) Rule and the Mumbai Region Town Planning (MRTP) Act. “This, if done, will make the scheme viable and more builders will undertake cluster development projects,” said Anand Gupta, secretary, Builder Association of India.
Since the inception of the scheme in 2009, out of the 48 cluster development proposals, only two were approved by the authority. “At present, to undertake such a project, the minimum area required is 1 acre or 4,000 sqmt. In fact, the size of the plot should be increased to at least 5 acres. The redevelopment layout should be big enough to enable widening of roads in the periphery of the plot. It would also help create open spaces and recreation facilities,” said a government official.
Another senior official pointed out that such projects with large number of occupants would be more difficult to manage. “Look at its implementation period: a lot of time is consumed in obtaining various approvals from the authorities, tenants and owners of the plots. The cost of cluster development is quite high and the developer has to pay a high interest rate on the amount that he borrows. As a result, small developers cannot undertake such projects. So, the incentive in terms of floor space index (FSI) should be more than the cap of 4. The additional FSI will ease a developer’s burden and encourage him to undertake such projects in large-scale,” he said, requesting anonymity.
According to him, a uniform FSI of 4 is not a necessity. “FSI should be considered on the basis of expenditure of the developer and rehabilitation of total number of tenants. The expenditure includes payment made for compensation to various stake holders, including tenants and owners, provision of a corpus fund and maintenance,” he explained, adding that “the expenses need to be taken care of by the developers for some years to make the scheme more attractive among tenants as well.”
Chairman of One Avighna Park, Kailash Agarwal, firmly believes that the Shanghai dream is not dead. “It can be made into a reality through cluster development. But the state should give priority to the scheme by sorting out all issues,” he said. Agarwal is successfully carrying out such a project at Lower Parel.
A major lacuna in cluster development is that there is no provision to delete the reservation of maternity homes, schools and public housing from the land which is to be developed.
Milind Samel, senior architect and town planner, said, “It puts additional burden on the developer to develop the reserved plot at free of cost and hand it over to the authority concerned. In fact, some FSI incentive should be given to the developer in computation with the plot.”
According to government officials, redevelopment is the key to better use of land in Mumbai.
“However, cluster development requires huge investments and the investor will get the returns only after completion of a project. Normally, it takes five to eight years to complete a project.”