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Cluster redevelopment: High-rises can lead to low spirits, says report

Mumbai: The state will have to walk a tight rope if it has to clear the cluster redevelopment policy for the city’s

suburbs as the impact assessment report of the policy says it will burden the city’s creaking infrastructure and have a negative impact on citizens, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
The report drafted by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and commissioned by the BMC has been submitted to the state before it finalises the policy for the suburbs.
Cluster redevelopment policy refers to an integrated redevelopment of an entire locality along with basic infrastructure. However, in 2014 a high court order made it mandatory that an impact assessment report be carried out before redevelopment of such scale is cleared.
The NEERI report has recommended Floor Space Index (FSI) of 3 for the suburbs against FSI of 4 applicable in the island city. FSI is the ratio of built up area to the total size of the plot and generally indicates how high a developer can construct. The report also states unlike island city, which has minimal clusters of only 1 acre, the minimal plot to be taken up for such a redevelopment should be 2.47 acres.
However, it remains to be seen if developers will find the scheme viable with a FSI of 3.
“Verticalisation and densification may yield positive results in case of higher socioeconomic group developments; their application to low income groups has proved disastrous…High rise living is associated with greater mental strain, as a co-factor. High-rise living is also associated with greater suicide rates.”
NEERI says this will have be offset through larger open and public spaces and better transportation.
The report stresses the need for a dedicated agency along with regulatory framework. In the absence of this, there is a chance of several litigations between developers and tenants.
If the policy is cleared for the suburbs with higher FSI, the report says the civic body will have to add to its infrastructure. For instance if 50% of non-slum areas in the suburbs are redeveloped with an FSI of 4, it will need an additional of 411 million liters per day of water to the existing 3750 MLD. The civic body will have to manage 1530 tonnes of additional waste that will be generated daily
This has been estimated after considering a rise in the population of about 27.44 lakh to the existing 98.90 lakh in the suburbs. Civic officials said the infrastructure will be provided by the civic body for the citizens as the provisions are made in the draft Development Plan 2034.
“The population shift to the suburbs has been increasing and so providing infrastructure will be the key. We have given various recommendations and FSI of 3 will be feasible,” said Dr. Rakesh Kumar, director of NEERI.
“We will consider the report and give weightage to the recommendations. However, the government will decide the policy,” said Nitin Kareer, Principal Secretary, Urban Development department.
“Urban renewal scheme is an important plan that should be implemented and we will be extending our support to the state government. We are looking at giving better living condition to the existing population through such schemes,” said civic chief Ajoy Mehta.

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