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Maharashtra government's no-show on cluster redevelopment leaves projects in limbo

Tuesday, 2 September 2014 - 7:55am IST | Agency: dna

Builders and developers have slammed the state government's failure to file its reply to a Bombay high court stay order on cluster redevelopment schemes, due to which several real estate projects across the city have come to a standstill.

What is cluster redevelopment?
Cluster redevelopment is the collective redevelopment of a number of buildings spread over a small plot of land, as opposed to that of an individual building. This procedure gives residents several advantages like parking, parks and other lifestyle amenities, and is ideal for a space-crunched city like Mumbai.

Cluster development can be done in a minimum area of 4,000 sqm or one acre. Developers can avail a floor space index (FSI) of 4. To undertake the scheme, developers and promoters have to seek the consent of 70 per cent of the area's landlords and tenants.

Is it better than single building revelopment?
According to Anand Gupta, secretary of the Builders Association of India (BAI), while developing individual buildings, as per the supreme court order, the builder has to keep six metres of space around the proposed building so fire brigade vehicles can move smoothly. "In Mumbai, the size of plots is very small so it is very difficult to keep so much space around buildings. Because of this, most individual buildings project proposals become unfeasible. As a result, most projects have gotten stuck. Developers are reluctant to undertake the projects," said Gupta.

Govt's lethargy in amending policy
Earlier, the state government had received 48 cluster development proposals, but only two were successfully approved. Therefore, the state decided to amend the cluster redevelopment policy to make it making more development and developer-friendly. However, the decision came too late, as in the meantime, a public interest litigation (PIL) was was filed and the HC put a stay on the proposed amended cluster policy. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan recently signed on the amended policy, but due to the stay, the notification cannot be issued.

Why did HC put stay on scheme?
Thane resident DH Daund had filed a PIL in the high court asking for a stay on the cluster development scheme unless it compiles all required studies. "An impact assessment study of all proposed cluster development projects should be carried out, and only then should project approvals be given," said the PIL. The court asked the state to file a reply, which it failed to do. Therefore, the court put a stay on the enforcement of the cluster redevelopment policy.

Builders speak
Anand Gupta, secretary of the Builders Association of India (BAI) said this is a big setback for the proposed cluster redevelopment policy. "The court order will badly affect the real estate sector. And the government's efforts give cluster development a boost will be jeopardised. Now many individual buildings will come up and that will create more problems," Gupta said.

"Shame on state government officials. How come they can ignore a court order and put the entire state's development in trouble? The CM should take action against these errant officials," said a prominent developer from South Mumbai on condition of anonymity.

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