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The Provision under DCR 33(14) allows a Developer to get unusually, a higher FSI to a Developer for redevelopment if he constructs free transit tenements for project-affected persons on the same plot or elsewhere and hand over the same to Slum Redevelopment Authority popularly known as SRA. This is a outlandish reward for Developers whose plots in prime localities may not have even a single slum.

A little-known provision under the Development Control Regulation known as DCR 33(14) is used to get the said benefit of huge additional FSI at their disposal as against the minimal Plot FSI. To follow the suit, other Developers are now planning to follow the same modus operandi by ignoring the BMC permissions. One of the Developers in western suburb of Mumbai bypassed the BMC Regulations and was blessed by approaching the SRA and reaped soaring FSI in addition to the Plot FSI.

In one of the posh western suburbs, while the progress of construction of a tower reached in its mid-way, the Developer realized that he could procure a much larger built-up area on the plot if he approached the SRA. Soon; he succeeded in getting permission from SRA to substantially increase the height from the 12 floors which was initially approved by the BMC, to 20 floors under the super power of this “Magic Wand” under the DCR 33(14) where each flat is now quoted for not less than Rs 10 crore.

The Market sources reveal that manoeuvring of getting more FSI under DCR 33(14) has now given the Mumbai’s Developers ideas of how to obtain higher FSI by taking ‘U’ Turn from the Civic Body’s Regulations and approach the SRA to build more and more luxury towers even on a very narrow plot.

On a Plot FSI of 6,000 sq ft, the said Developer had a construction area of around 60,000 sq. ft which is 10 times more than the plot area. The Developer while submitting the initial plans, had shown the transit tenements to be a part of this plush tower where the rate is as high as Rs. 60,000/- a sq. ft of carpet area.

However, the Developer later opted that these transit tenements will be built on his another land elsewhere in western suburbs and shall hand over the same to the SRA. The Developer stated that the rules permit this and one can have the benefit of higher FSI by approaching the SRA with submitting fresh plans if necessary.

The swanky tower constructed by the said Developer has several duplex and triplex apartments between the 4th and 20th floors having a terrace swimming pool. It is believed to be the first such project under this SRA provision in the upmarket of one of the posh western suburbs locality.

An investigating team of one of the leading news papers of Mumbai revealed that the rampant violations of DC Regulations in this plush tower may now result in the residents losing a little less than 50% (say 40%) of their apartment areas.

The tower is already under the scanner for large-scale violations including utilizing in multiple sq. meters of the permissible FSI. The building plans show how rules have been contravened. Ducts with service slabs are shown as Prayer Room in the drawings of saleable flats. Other ducts are shown as toilets while a room meant for multipurpose is shown as a bedroom.

The SRA-approved plans showed a Fitness Centre, a Letter Box Room, MTNL Room, A Multi-Purpose Room and a Small Transit Tenement on the 4th floor. But a Sale Agreement showed it as a 1,668 sq. ft apartment. The Slum Authority also allowed an elevation of 2.25 metres beyond the balcony line. The BMC does not permit an elevation more than 0.75 metres which has to be two feet below the floor level so that it cannot be misused.

The inspection team also found several other violations including merging the lift lobby area into adjacent rooms, illegal covering of elevation features and conversion of ducts into toilets.

The construction of such unjustifiable high-rises via misappropriation of large-scale FSI on an isolated narrow lane is an example of how the Developers in Mumbai abuse the laid down laws of BMC. However, because the slums occupy one-fourth of Mumbai's land, this is the driving force why the Developers grab a whole plate of pie by approaching SRA and take advantage of unlimited FSI under the DCR 33(14) to construct high-rise towers.

It was in 1995 that the Maharashtra Government came up with an ambitious plan to redevelop these encroached plots and rehabilitate the slum dwellers on the same plots. The slum redevelopment was widely appreciated as an innovative scheme to combat the menace of encroachment but did not know that a devil has already born.

The SRA scheme permits the Developers to commercially exploit the slum plot as well since he gets a free-sale component too. The higher the number of people gets rehabilitated, the larger the area is available to sell in the open market at prevalent commercial rate. And this is where the Developers often tend to flout selling norms by joining hands with Civic Officials.

More often than not, the redeveloped flats under slum rehabilitation scheme are illegally occupied as these slum-dwellers who get flats, sell or rent them and create another illegal slum. In many instances, the Developers have resorted to fraudulent practice of double the number of slum occupants by forging documents and names.

Back to the story, the controversial tower has now become a hot current topic point in the city's realty industry and the state government circles following a News Paper’s shocking and unprecedented revelations how the Developer bypassed the Civic Body and obtained higher FSI by approaching the SRA.

One of the flat buyers said that he had planned to book a flat in this posh tower. He was surprised that the BMC’s sanctioned plan showed the flat size as 750 sq ft. However, the Sale Agreement indicated an area of 3,050 sq. ft.

The said buyer filed a complaint with BMC against several unauthorized changes made by the Developer, resulting in cheating with flat buyers and loss of revenue to the exchequer. He further added that the large pocket terraces, which are supposed to be open, were been covered up.

On the basis of the complaint from the said buyer, the BMC's Building Proposals Department issued a notice to the Developer. The Developer challenged the notice in the City Civil Court and obtained an order, which directed the BMC to consider his application for regularisation of violation of FSI. Later, instead of applying for regularization to the BMC, the Developer submitted revised plans for construction to the SRA by suppressing the fact that he had already entered into Agreements for sale of flats.

The Developer in his plea said that the rules permitted him to change over to the slum scheme by providing transit tenements free to the SRA. However; the Slum Authority wanted the Developer to provide 17 transit tenements in the luxury tower itself.

The SRA's letter to the Developer stated that these transit tenements should include a Balwadi, Welfare Centre and Society Office and that these transit tenements should be marked as transit tenements on doors prominently and handed over to the concerned authority by providing security guards.

However, the said Developer stated that these transit tenements will now be provided on his another land though in western suburb only. The original SRA Rule stipulated that these transit tenements are to be provided on the same plot. But later the government, allegedly under immense pressure from the Developers, issued a circular, allowing them to provide the transit tenements elsewhere in a different area.

One can well predict the role of a Developer as the king, as higher FSI and concessions are gifted out frequently to them through various schemes that are most often conflicting with each other.

This is an example of the systematic destruction of Mumbai, legitimized by superfluous laws enacted by the State and Civic Body. This ‘BUILDMORE’ syndrome is a blatant bluff and an illusory consolation that such relaxed policies to grant exorbitant FSI shall solve the shortage of housing but in reality it shall lead to the inconsistent and incoherent growth in high rise towers.