Breathing space gets a new lease of life

Feb 01 2014, 10:29 IST
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A Supreme Court ruling on open spaces in Mumbai plugs a loophole exploited by developers, setting a precedent on development control norms across the country. A Supreme Court ruling on open spaces in Mumbai plugs a loophole exploited by developers, setting a precedent on development control norms across the country.
SummaryA Supreme Court ruling on open spaces in Mumbai plugs a loophole exploited by developers.

This is a common feature in high-rise buildings in land-starved Mumbai. To access the parking space, ramps are built, which consumes space on the ground level, developers argue. But then, the trick is to compensate this loss of ground level open space, by replicating it on the podium so that they are in compliance with the DCR.

In 2012, MCGM amended a rule DCR 38 (34), which relates to the podium parameters. MCGM added a clause (iv) which relates it to DCR 23: “The recreational space prescribed in DCR 23 may be provided either at ground level or on the open-to-sky podium.” The developers exploited this provision to its fullest by reducing open space at ground level and increasing it at the podium level. This deprived the residents of open green spaces.

The apex court came down heavily on this practice. In the case of Kohinoor CTNL it observed that “The recreational space in the case reduced to almost 7.7 per cent on ground level. We are surprised that the Municipal Corporation did not look into it seriously, probably because of the rule that permits it on the podium… If this is treated as a correct interpretation than it is quite possible that recreational area left at the ground level could be zero.”

The Union government has recommended minimum 11 sq metres of open space per person and the National Building Code, 2005 prescribes at least 3 sq metres but Greater Mumbai has only 1.91 sq metres per person. The Supreme Court, concerned over the “excessive concretisation” emphasised on the need for open and green spaces at the ground level for the health of the residents and finally ruled that, “The minimum recreational space as laid down under DCR 23 cannot be reduced on the basis of DCR 38 (34). This space, if any, provided on the podium as per 38(34) (iv) shall be in addition to that provided as per DCR 23.”

As the implementation of the ruling cannot be retrospective, since many projects have already taken off and are at various stages of construction, the court clarified that this ruling of strictly following DCR 23 will be applicable to only those proposals which are yet not approved or have not been issued a Commencement Certificate.

“The developers have another hidden reason to oppose this,” says Ashok Chatiani, a broker. “This manipulation gives them extra profit. Consider this. The open space on ground

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