Govt bats for ver­ti­cal growth in cities

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - Front Page - Moushumi Das Gupta moushumi.gupta@hin­dus­tan­times.com

In what could pave the way for ver­ti­cal growth in In­dian cities, Union hous­ing and ur­ban af­fairs min­is­ter Hardeep Singh Puri on Satur­day called for re­view­ing the Floor Space In­dex (FSI) norms in 53 mega cities.

Re­lax­ing the FSI, which is a ra­tio of a build­ing’s to­tal floor area to the size of the piece of land on which it is built, will al­low con­struc­tion of taller build­ings in cities where hor­i­zon­tal space is in short sup­ply on ac­count of grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Cur­rently, the FSI per­mit­ted in In­dian cities is ex­tremely low — rang­ing from 1 to 1.5 — un­like cities like Shang­hai and Sin­ga­pore. Ac­cord­ing to the three-year ac­tion agenda that Niti Aayog, the gov­ern­ment’s top think tank, un­veiled re­cently, the lower FSI in In­dia has re­sulted in cities such as Mum­bai hav­ing on an av­er­age just 4.50 sqmt of space per per­son. As against this, Shang­hai had 34 sqmt of space per per­son in 2010 be­cause of its lib­eral FSI.

Re­al­is­ing that the scarcity of space that most In­dian cities face is be­cause of ar­chaic de­vel­op­ment con­trol norms, the Aayog has sug­gested that this can be coun­tered by ex­pand­ing our cities vertically through the con­struc­tion of taller build­ings.

Re­fer­ring to the Niti Aayog doc­u­ment, Puri di­rected of­fi­cials from state gov­ern­ment as well as the hous­ing and ur­ban af­fairs min­istry to take up a time bound re­view of the FSI norms in all the 53 cities with a pop­u­la­tion of over one mil­lion each and ex­am­ine the ex­tent to which it could be en­hanced. He said this while ad­dress­ing a na­tional work­shop on the new metro rail pol­icy.

Ur­ban sec­tor ex­perts, how­ever, are not con­vinced that re­lax­ing FSI norms will ad­dress chal­lenges. “FSI norms can’t be re­viewed in iso­la­tion. It has to be done in re­la­tion to the ex­ist­ing so­cial and phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture in our cities. The hor­i­zon­tal ver­sus ver­ti­cal de­bate is vac­u­ous un­less it helps in im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life,” said Pro­fes­sor KT Ravin­dran, Dean Emer­i­tus at the RICS School of Built En­vi­ron­ment and for­mer chair­man, Delhi Ur­ban Arts Com­mis­sion. Ravin­dran said that the need of the hour is to have a com­pre­hen­sive na­tional ur­ban­i­sa­tion pol­icy.

“The last such pol­icy drafted by a com­mit­tee headed by noted ur­ban plan­ner Charles Cor­rea came up in 1988. It had a roadmap on how to tackle growth in small and mid-sized cities,” he said.

HT FILE

Re­lax­ing floor space in­dex will al­low con­struc­tion of taller build­ings in cities where hor­i­zon­tal space is in short sup­ply.

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