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The Supreme Court approval of the Development Control Rules 33 (7) has been welcomed by developers in Mumbai. Niranjan Mudholkar finds out why

The Supreme Court (SC) has approved redevelopment of pre-1940 buildings in Mumbai. Numbering more than 16,000, these buildings can be now demolished and redeveloped with extra floor space index (FSI) under the Development Control Rules 33 (7) as these buildings pay a repair cess to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA).

The only condition for redevelopment is that 70% of the occupants should come together along with their landlords.

Builders and developers can bring down these old structures, irrespective of whether they are dilapidated or not and construct high-rise towers. However, it comes with a caveat. Tenants of the old buildings will have to be given accommodation in the new buildings at no cost. In return, the developer will be allowed to earn profits by utilising part of the land to construct a tower and sell in the open market.

The industry has responded positively to the decision. RS Ajmera, president, Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (Credai) and a builder and developer himself applauded the decision. “It is a step in the right direction,” he said. The Builders’ Association of India (BAI) too wholeheartedly welcomed the SC judgement by calling it a landmark judgement.

“This will change the life of 20 lakh residents living in the 16,500 dilapidated buildings in south Mumbai. It will also offer business opportunities for developers along with rich returns to the local and state government. It will also act as a first step in helping to convert Mumbai into Shanghai,” said Anand Gupta, honorary general secretary, BAI. The Remaking of Mumbai Federation (RoMF), comprising builders has also welcomed the SC decision.

Old houses for new

Although the original rule said the present tenants be given flats with minimum areas of 225 sq ft, it is likely that the Maharashtra state government may bring some amendments to allow for a cluster approach to the redevelopment of the old buildings as against redevelopment of individual buildings. Accordingly, the minimum space given to the present occupants could go up to 300 sq ft.

Rajesh Vardhan, managing director, Vardhman Group, while welcoming the approval of DCR 33 (7), said he also supports the cluster model of redevelopment as it will be good for the overall infrastructure. “I am completely pro-redevelopment. The people staying in these buildings are the ‘real Mumbaikars’ and taxpaying citizens. It is sad that they have to live in tiny rooms not measuring more than 100 sq ft. They have a right to a better quality of life,” Vardhan said.

While most veto the SC decision, there has also come opposition. Many urban planners and environmentalists feel that some developers may misuse the FSI incentive and the redevelopment may lead to further congestion in south Mumbai.

On the other hand, most of industry feels that the SC approval has actually paved way to ease the congestion. “The judgement has come at the right time as south Mumbai is choking and it will be a relief for the entire island city. It will also increase housing stock and will have downward impact on the pricing front,” said BAI’s Gupta. In fact, he went on to say that the incentive be extended northwards as well.

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