Builders party on BMC commissioner’s exit but he could return in a new role
The exit on April 30 of the tough Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation ( BMC) commissioner Subodh Kumar, who changed the city’s development control rules in favour of home buyers, was reportedly greeted by some builders with a party in Dubai in the first week of May. But their celebrations might be short- lived, especially with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan likely to appoint him as head of the proposed Maharashtra Housing Regulatory Authority ( MHRA). Moreover, new BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte has announced that he will toe his predecessor’s line.
Kumar had stalled many forthcoming housing projects when he took over in December 2010, saying he would clear them only after amending the Development Control Rules. The project delays caused builders huge losses. The rules were finally amended on January 3, 2012, “to curb the corruption and minimise discretion in giving permission for construction”. Under the new rule, builders aren’t allowed to charge extra for balconies, flower beds, terraces as these are part of the floor space index ( FSI). Builders are an unhappy lot. “If the builders are made to pay more for FSI, they will certainly pass on the cost to the customers. No builder will pay from his own pocket,” says architect Arif Noorani, 38.
A source in the chief minister’s office says Kumar is likely to head MHRA after the Legislative Assembly passes the Maharashtra Housing ( Regulation and Development) Bill, tabled by the government in April, in the monsoon session commencing in July. The builders can party, but at their peril.