The government is piling on the problems in an already congested city, adding to the existing pressure on urban infrastructure. Consider this. In a move likely to strain the city further, the state has virtually cleared the decks for the release of an additional buildable area of nearly 87 lakh sq ft.
The area will be released to developers in the form of incentive FSI (floor space index, ratio of permissible built-up area vis-a-vis the plot size) for setting up public parking spaces on a portion of their respective plots.
Here’s how the figures add up. For every parking space a builder provides, it stands to benefit to the tune of 320 sq ft. Thirty private parties, including those undertaking redevelopment of mill lands in central Mumbai, have undertaken to create 27,088 public parking spaces, an urban development department official said.
This translates into the nearly 87 lakh sq ft for commercial exploitation.
The proposals have been received following the state’s decision last year to amend development control regulations to permit private participation in public parking. As per norms, a private party can avail up to 50% of the built-up area of the public parking space constructed on the plot. The parking facility, once created, has to be handed over free-of-cost to the BMC. A state-appointed committee has approved all the 30 proposals in principle. The urban development department has approved 20 of these. A committee member indicated 30 other proposals were in the pipeline.
Even as committee members argued that the creation of additional parking space will solve the parking woes in Mumbai, town planners and transport activists claimed the move would only congest the city further. “It is like offering sugar to a diabetes patient,” said transport planner Ashok Datar.
Datar, who was appointed by the BMC as a parking expert on a technical committee for its own public parking proposals, further added that houses constructed in the incentive area will only complicate the parking and infrastructure problem. Urban planner and renowned architect Pankaj Joshi echoed his views. “I see this policy as just another avenue for builders to get FSI,” he said.
A senior official said the high-powered committee, comprising officials from the BMC, the MMRDA, the traffic, and the town planning department, has been insisting on modern-day ramps, car lifts and driveways for the multi-storey parking lots. This has led to an increase in the per unit built-up space requirement, which was pegged at 60 sq m. Transport studies have estimated the per unit parking space in a conventional car park at 22 sq m.
The maximum impact of the additional load will be felt in the densely congested island city. Nearly 75 lakh sq ft, amounting to 86% of the total additional area, will be utilised in this region. Officials said that 21 of the 30 proposals were from the island city.
The region will cater to 23,362 of the total recommended car park space of 27,088. Almost all of these will come up on mill lands. A holistic transportation policy to solve congestion woes was needed, said Joshi.