ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Policy Change and Floor Space Index

This article explores the key features of contemporary floor space index policy in Mumbai to contribute to the ongoing debates and provide the context for evaluating the proposed urban policy changes. Contemporary FSI in Mumbai exists in a policy network of exemptions, incentives, and development rights.

The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewer for their insightful feedback.

Many debates about urban dev­elopment in Mumbai focus around the question of floor space index or FSI levels, and have been explored in the pages of EPW. FSI and related urban policy instruments are an important source of government revenue and play a role in creating aff­ordable housing, slum redevelopment and in achieving other urban goals. Int­roduced in the development plan for Mumbai in 1964, FSI is defined as the ­ratio of the total built-up area to total plot area. It determines the volume or bulk of a building and the floor space that can be constructed. As a simple example: if the FSI is 1 and the entire plot is built on, the building can only be constructed to one floor. If half the plot is left as open space, then the building can be built to two floors, and so on. The FSI in the ­Island City was set at 1.33 and in the suburbs it was 1. However, the “consumed” FSI varies in the city from 0.93 to 7.35 (MCGM 2006: 87).

While some urban economists have advocated for deregulation or increasing the FSI limits in ­Indian cities, especially Mumbai (Bertaud 2011; Glaeser 2011: 160; Brueckner and Sridhar 2012), some urban planners have been sceptical. Shirish Patel (2013) has argued that ­relaxing FSI could result in densification, overcrowding, and infrastructure shortfalls. In light of these debates, this article puts forth two important features of contemporary FSI policy as providing the context for evaluating proposed changes to FSI policy. The argument of this article is that contemporary FSI ­exists in a policy network of exemptions, incentives, concessions, and development rights. Policy change to FSI regulations must take this into account—multiple stakeholders are implicated and any change in FSI levels or to the related instruments and exemptions will have an impact on stakeholders differently.

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Updated On : 20th Jun, 2022
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