Over the last two months, Mumbai’s municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte has sent back file after file because the buildings they propose do not meet a specification for open spaces ruled mandatory by a recent Supreme Court order.
The court on December 17 ruled that developers must set aside a minimum 15 to 25 per cent of the plot size at ground level towards open recreational spaces. So far, many developers had been creating such spaces at the podium level and adding that to the open space at the ground level so that the total came to 15-25 per cent. With the Supreme Court insisting on the minimum at the ground level, real estate experts estimate that it will halt over 60 per cent of projects in the city.
“We have been sending back files that are not as per the order of the Supreme Court. These developers are being asked to modify their building plans as per new rules for submission to the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation),” Kunte said.
Builders say it is a challenge to provide recreational facilities at ground level while keeping the project commercially viable. “We cannot provide all the recreational space at ground level as there is an increasing need for parking space in the city. This, coupled with stringent norms for fire passages, will make it extremely difficult for developers to take up projects, especially redevelopment, cluster and slum rehabilitation schemes,” said Vimal Shah, president of Maharashtra Chamber of Housing and Industry and managing director of Hubtown (Ackruti City).
Rule 23 of the Development Control Regulation of 1991 did mandate 15-25 per cent open space at ground level but the BMC, by an amendment in January 2012, permitted that space on a podium. Now the Supreme Court has ruled that any green space on a podium would have to be in addition to the mandatory space at the ground level.
The order came on a case arising, ironically, out of a demolition notice served by the BMC itself.
The notice was on a commercial tower at the 4.8-acre Kohinoor Mills No.3, bought in 2005 at Rs 421 crore by Kohinoor Group and Matoshree Realty, firms owned respectively by former Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi’s son Unmesh Joshi and MNS chief Raj Thackeray. The tower is being built by Kohinoor CTNL Infrastructure Company, with the group holding the majority share and the rest owned by financial services firm IL&FS.