The skylines of major Indian cities may have more skyscrapers in future if the Central government decides to an upward revision of Floor Space Index (FSI) norms. The government has formed a panel to look into the matter. Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri has issued orders to form a committee of ministry officials and external experts as per The Indian Express.
FSI, also known as the Floor Area Ratio (FAR), is the extent of the buildable area allowed on any given plot. FSI is regulated by Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) department. It regulates the FSI value based on city zone, type of building and other amenities. Construction companies or builders can only build up to the FSI imposed by the government. It said that the permitted FSI in Indian cities is low – in the range of 1 to 1.5.
A Ministry official said that the only way to decongest urban sprawls is by letting buildings go higher. It was also mentioned that once the panel drafts its report, there will be wider consultations. Hardeep Puri in a meeting of state-level officials in September asked for a time-bound review of FSI norms so as to promote compact, vertical urban growth and to meet the demand for affordable housing under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).
The decision is based on a 2017 NITI Aayog report that said that paucity of land can be countered by expanding space vertically through the construction of taller buildings. The report also noted that when cities have allowed high-rise buildings in the recent past, it has usually done so in the peripheral regions rather than in the centre of the city. The NITI Aayog report also compares the case of Mumbai and Shanghai to illustrate how the latter, through a liberal FSI regime created more per capita space.
However, urban experts have opposed the idea of high-rise buildings saying that further densification would be a further strain on infrastructure. According to Demographia World Urban Areas (2017) report, Mumbai, which has the maximum high-rises in the country, is the world’s fourth densest city with 26,000 people per sq km. Delhi NCR, with a low-rise Delhi and highrise Noida-Gurgaon, stands 123 on the density scale. In comparison, Shanghai is place 423rd while Tokyo (632), New York (944), Chicago (965) have even lower population densities as also more green open spaces.