The real estate industry in Mumbai, which is already reeling under demand recession, has virtually come to a standstill following a recent Supreme Court order. The court had ruled that a six-metre-wide open space skirting all buildings is mandatory and 10-25% of the plot area be kept open to sky.
Builders claim that this ruling has adversely affected the economics of their projects. Several other issues, such as heritage, doppler, prisons, naval restrictions and Coastal Regulation Zones, have already crippled the industry.
The result is that in the last three weeks not a single new proposal for construction of buildings has been received by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). In fact, BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte has returned all plans submitted by builders before the Supreme Court, after its order, since they would have to comply with the new rule.
Kunte has asked the fire brigade, the building proposals and development plan departments to strictly follow the apex court guidelines so that no contempt of court is committed.
“The actual size of plots available for development has shrunk dramatically as a result of the court order. This, in turn, has upset our calculations with regard to the viability of a project. We have to change our architectural plans,” said Anand Gupta, secretary of the Builders’ Association of India.
Gupta said builders have to also increase the height of buildings to accommodate tenants in redevelopment projects. “If the height of the proposed building goes up more than 70 metres, high-rise committee rules will be applicable. For example, it will be mandatory to keep two staircases with a width of two metres. Also, refuge floors will have to be provided after each set of nine floors. Earlier, these requirements were free of FSI. Now, we have to pay for them,” Gupta said.
He said that on the one hand there was no significant rise in property prices, but, on the other, “we’re being forced to pay more by way of premia and other escalated input costs.”
“Our projects have become non-viable. We are here to do business and make some profit. But the new set of rules have completely upset our calculations. We now have to think twice before investing in any project,” said Shailesh Puranik, managing director of Puranik Developers.
Milind Samel, senior architect, said the Supreme Court judgment has forced people like him to go back to the drawing boards to prepare fresh plans. “All our earlier efforts have gone to waste,” he said.