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Mumbai DP

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Mumbai DP

  1. 1. 64 l BUILDOTECH l June ’15 SSUSTAINABILITY The Mumbai Development Plan (DP) 2034, an urban planning blueprint has been strongly opposed by citizens including city planners and even some politicians. Buildotech presents views of some of the prominent design professionals and their suggestions. Mumbai DP 2034– Ills & Cures A ccording to the critics, the recently scraped Mumbai Development Plan (DP) 2034 plan had ignored ground realities of the city. But, many also appreciated the new FSI rules proposed in DP to accommodate the expected increase in Mumbai’s population as both the earlier DPs failed to plan for development suitable to a growing population. As of now, the state government has asked for the revised development plan within four months taking into considerations all the ambiguities, incorrect data and other relevant details. Need for liberal development plan Despite the fact that the Mumbai DP 2034 offered some very sane and urgently needed The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which came up with the Mumbai Development Plan (DP) 2034 says it was made professionally to achieve the goals of growth, inclusiveness and sustainability. Whereas, architects and town planners have called the plan “irrelevant” to the needs and aspirations of Mumbai residents.
  2. 2. June ’15 l BUILDOTECH l 65 SUSTAINABILITY changes, it ran into rough weather for two reasons. Its criticism for many “errors” and more importantly, opposition to its policy departures.” Pointing out that the cities of Hyderabad and Ahmedabad have benefited from liberal realty norms, President of CEPT (Center for Environmental Planning and Technology) University and Director at HCP Design Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd, Ahmedabad, Bimal Patel emphasized that the departures proposed in the Mumbai DP are in the correct direction. “Urban plans in India have generally failed. Mumbai’s planners are learning, the hard way, that the politics of planning is far more important than its technical aspects. Instituting reforms and making bold departures is never easy. Good ideas are not adopted simply because they are good. For them to be adopted, powerful people have to believe in them.” Patel expressed the hope that Mumbai’s planners will use the coming four months to engage with key decision- and opinion-makers to convince them of the merit of their proposals—and not to reverse their proposals. “Forsaking the new liberal planning approach that its planners are proposing would be a tragedy for Mumbai,” he said. Hyderabad, for instance, has done away with the FSI norms and Ahmedabad has liberalized them to facilitate high- rise buildings, supported by modern urban infrastructure, including mass rapid transport and BRT. Ahmedabad also has the unique partnership among the administrators-politicians- and planners which ensures the DP works without any hitches. Patel felt that Mumbai’s planners had taken a “brave new, liberal approach” to the city’s new Development Plan (DP)-2034. They had, for example, liberalized floor space index (FSI) limits to dispel the artificial scarcity created by earlier plans. It rightly recognized that FSI limits do not limit population densities, but only limit floor space consumption. It integrated land use proposals with the city’s transportation networks, simplified FSI regulations to ease governance and unshackle architecture. “The development plan adopted policies for more efficient land use, abandoned the policy of reserving specific plots in favour of a fairer approach that distributes the cost of creating public benefits more broadly as also liberalized rigid zoning in favour of mixed-use zoning. It also proposed new regulations to provide better accessibility for disabled people.” he adds. Correlate plan with other authorities The draft DP-2034 was an attempt to simplify the development in the city however, it excluded major parts of Mumbai which came under various other authorities’ viz. MMRDA, Port Trust, Extended Suburbs, etc. and missed addressing areas like Slums, Redevelopment of Cessed / old dilapidated structures. Veteran architect Premnath, Founder & Principal architect of design organization Prem Nath & associates in Mumbai points out that Port trust land amounts to close to 1,500 acres in the heart of city “Key opinion-makers have to be engaged with, educated and brought on board. Sincere, but misguided, experts have to be convinced or isolated. Vested interests have to be exposed. Public opinion has to be formed in favour of good ideas by engaging with the public. This is political work. Urban planning requires technical as well as political acumen.” – Bimal Patel
  3. 3. 66 l BUILDOTECH l June ’15 SSUSTAINABILITY in South-Mumbai but, the said DP didn’t consider the impact of the ware houses, slums, commercial spaces, workers & their housing and a lot of junk space lying vacant in this area. Likewise, mill lands in Mumbai have been developed in most haphazard manner, without a proper planning for such lands including. MHADA, BDD Chawls, Corporations old vacant lands. “The swanky Bandra-Kurla Complex that started developing 30 years ago is still under development while, the surrounding areas have mushroomed up much faster and in a most unorganized manner. Similar would be the case of the above mentioned large land pockets if not taken in account in the DP-2034.” he adds. Some of the ambiguities as per Premnath include, the island city’s coast line, about 40% land being under the CRZ. DP 2034 had given a blanket FSI enhancement without considering the areas under the CRZ – in-turn creating a conflict between the DP and the CRZ. Salt Pan Lands too were shown as developable with New FSI while, these lands are not under the State but the jurisdiction of Central Govt. Similarly, the No Development Zones in the City were blindly demarcated with FSI allowing commercial & residential development. Instead, these could have been marked as low density developments with FSI of 0.5 or 1 for cottages, villas and low-rise structures to maintain the sanctity of these green areas. On the other hand, he said, plan for the Arrey Milk Colony seemed to have been misunderstood by general public as organized and developed green space with some adventure activities would have been beneficial. “Variable FSI is good, however one must have considered that Mumbai is a densely populated city and giving higher FSI near the stations would only mean more congestion near the stations. Higher FSI will also mean high rise structures, which shall be expensive and not affordable. What one needs is inexpensive housing close to stations, so that a middle class family is able to catch a train / metro and go to work, affordably” Premnath asserts. As the said DP is planned for high buildability the infrastructure needs too should have been addressed. With base FSI itself being 3 – development / construction quantum would surely increased however the roads, sewage systems, water supply systems, remained under planned. “DP 2034 didn’t consider the traffic infrastructure, internal commuting synchronization and entry-exit points to the city. What happens to the city which has only a couple of entry-exit points and the new ones are yet being planned for more than two decades, but not implemented, be it the Panvel Airport, the road linkage towards Nava-sheva or the city-side exit to such linkages that are major bottlenecks.” he states. Premnath considers DP 2034 good in terms of the distribution of FSI, simplification and clarity in development and open spaces, however it missed addressing some pertinent issues such as the heritage structures, the synchronization between the wholesale markets, planning for garbage disposal and most importantly connecting with the Mumbaikers. He said, “Presently, 50% of Mumbai population lives in slums and only 10% population is able to afford living in this city Yet, Mumbai lacks affordable housing & redevelopment of dilapidated structures and since last two Development Plans we have not been able to provide any unified thought in this matter. All this resulted in the said draft DP missing to achieve the trust of the major population of the city.” Define public infrastructure As architects and planners design, based on the client brief with a purview of the latent and imminent needs, a development plan too defines the requirement of a city keeping in mind various aspects such as climatic change, waste management, infrastructure, and urban development. These guidelines give architects the ability to make decisions based on structured rules. With an experience of working on numerous international projects, renowned Mumbai architect Reza Kabul feels, the development plan for any place should be designed keeping in mind the growth for the next 100 years. As he puts it, “The DP will create transparency in the approval system “The municipal corporation may be able to resolve smaller issues in the four months time and might fail to address the major issues requiring coordination with other authorities like MMRDA, Port Trust, Rail Authorities, etc to prepare a well inculcated development chart with fiscal components, resources, budgeting and timelines.” – Premnath
  4. 4. June ’15 l BUILDOTECH l 67 SUSTAINABILITY and calculations and streamline and further simplify the procedure. However, the current transition period has put several projects on hold based on the uncertainty. The sooner the Mumbai Development Plan is concrete, the city shall move out of its current standstill.” According to him, the inception of transit oriented development is a successful model but, in case of Mumbai, the transit infrastructure should be planned in co-ordination with the same. Instead of focusing on increasing the FSI close to stations, the government should emphasize on the development of public transit infrastructure. This will prevent the need to cluster around spaces such as stations. “If they start developing infrastructure, that is parallel to the railways, or the highways, or an alternative to either people will not consider the congested areas with proximity to the stations as the only alternative. In this scenario the governments’ public transit infrastructure policy is key rather than just an increase in FSI. After decongesting the spaces, an increase in FSI can be acceptable.” he adds. A l l t h e s p a c e t h a t t h e government is claiming for amenities under this plan should be developed and the amenities should be handed over by the government to the public. In the new DP there is a provision which states that each plot must leave a certain amount of amenity space. Instead of handing it over to the government, amenities should be included in the development plan itself. For instance, the government has to make provisions for public parking. If they are handing over additional FSI, there needs to be provision of extra parking under that FSI which can be handed back to the government for public parking spaces. Kabul also points out that development of certain areas of the The Aarey Milk Colony, perhaps the only dense green area within the city limits might be a solution to the unlawful encroachment and slums that are currently in play in that area. In addition, the DP 2034 notification stating that apartments less than 50sqm in size fall under the EWS because of its small size and affordability by the segment address the affordable housing need. Design a climate responsive city The world over, countries are talking of climate responsive smart cities. Mumbai sits on a coast line and therefore it is urgent that the proposed DP addresses the problem of affordable housing, infrastructure development in sync with the population growth and the fast changing climate to make it a climate responsive city. It is extremely critical that the DP 2034 is put into action at the earliest. Mumbai based Sandeep Goswami, COO of Fountain Head-II and Consultant of Science & Policy of Climate Change, feels that the overall mistakes in the DP made it fit for review. But this has also severely impacted real estate business and prospects of planned growth. The inadvertent mushrooming of 7000 illegal buildings in and around Mumbai every year are exacerbating the already creaking infrastructure of Mumbai and unless corrective measures are taken, shortage of water, sanitation etc. would plunge the livability index of the city further. Goswami finds merit in the DP proposal of geographic distribution of FSI instead of a uniform FSI but recommends a systematic plan, so as to decongest the city. The provision should allow for infrastructural up gradation, especially in the areas with narrow roads and few open spaces. According to him, the idea of creating high-density residential zones around stations is incorrect, “The Mumbai Development Plan 2014 – 2034 currently under review is a completely new approach to planning system. Once on the right lines, it will simplify a lot of planning issues and create uniform policies for all, which will also help in reducing the time required for approvals. Furthermore, it has been in the draft phase and a plan of such magnitude does require additional consideration before it gets final.” –Reza Kabul
  5. 5. 68 l BUILDOTECH l June ’15 SSUSTAINABILITY without proper understanding of the public infrastructure of that particular area. No setting aside of adequate open spaces for public amenities while allowing no-development zones for residential purposes adds to the mistake. He suggests increase in FSI around stations via urban design intervention that provides multi-tiered hawking and parking spaces to decongest the city. It would also provide green spaces along the railways with promenade and parks. But, unless these are explicitly spelt out, the outcome would be ugly and inefficient tall buildings, only adding to the mess Mumbai already is in. “It is the removal of ambiguity around calculations of FSI which is the panacea for all ills. As for the term non-development zone, this in itself is unclear, particularly concerning the mapping of existing land use and proposals related to densification, infrastructure and open spaces.” he added. Commenting on the missing provision of affordable housing in DP, Goswami said, “As long as commercial consideration rules, “affordable housing” will be an oxymoron. Somewhere down the line the “house” as a necessity of every citizen got lost because they became an ‘investment’ product. Unless this mindset changes, the most expensive real-estates would never build for the poor.” “DP2034 was that it did not take into account representation of people from all strata of life and experts from environment, health and safety fields. It lacked deliberation among the experts, peers and public. Instead of giving four months to correct the mistakes, the plan should be discussed area wise in an open forum and then the joint decision incorporated to pass the final draft with the backing of the public.” – Sandeep Goswami