‘Achhe din’ for builders of luxury towers in Mumbai

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has ushered in 'achhe din' for several developers building luxury residential towers, mainly in areas where property prices are the highest in the country. 

 


The state urban development department headed by him, issued a notification on May 21, exempting them from paying a hefty premium to the BMC for building extra areas. 

 


Upcoming skyscrapers in Lower Parel, Worli and Nepean Sea Road, where apartments have reportedly sold for between Rs 40 crore to Rs 100 crore, will benefit from this new rule. 

 


Influential developers were lobbying with BJP leaders to exempt them from this premium. They contended that they received their preliminary building permissions much before the premium payment rule for building extra areas was introduced on January 6, 2012.

 


Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta said the civic administration will now have to compile a list of all such projects that are exempted. 

 


TOI in its edition dated May 5 had reported about the government's move to exempt such developers from paying what is called Fungible FSI premium to the BMC. 
By far, the biggest beneficiary of this largesse is One Avighna Park, a luxury residential project near Currey Road station in central Mumbai. Its developer Kailash Agarwal had opposed paying the premium on the ground that his project had procured permissions prior to January 6, 2012. "It was our contention that buildings which were constructed more than 70% should not have been affected by the new development control rules introduced in January 2012," he said. 

 


Agarwal's project comprises two towers of 64 floors each with "sky villas and sky mansions". The project has been stuck for the past couple of years because of this issue. The building was earlier approved by the BMC with unusually large fire refuge areas and decks on each floor. 

 


Industry sources said Palais Royale, touted as India's tallest residential building at Worli, may also benefit from this notification. Construction stopped a few years ago after the project was caught in litigation following allegations of large-scale building violations. 

 


Fifty-six floors were built though the initial municipal permission was for 43 floors. The developer contended that BMC had passed plans up to the 56th floor. The BMC had ordered that areas exempted from the building's floor space index (FSI) be now counted as part of it. FSI is a ratio that determines how much can be built on a plot. Refuge areas, passages, swimming pools and structural columns were not included in the FSI when Palais Royale's plans were approved by BMC seven years ago. The new notification may come as a huge relief for this project. 

 


Another major beneficiary is an under-construction, high-end luxury skyscraper at Nepean Sea Road called Sesen, a project owned by Satellite Group, but now believed to be taken over by Pune-based builder Avinash Bhosale. The initial permissions were procured prior to the January 6, 2012 cut-off date, hence the developer will not have to pay premium when it seeks sanction for further construction. 

 


A 37-storeyed Breach Candy tower built on a one-acre plot by the Singhanias of Raymond could also get a reprieve under the new rule. 


The project has been stuck for some time now. A report prepared by then municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte observed that excessive concessions granted to the developer caused a "mammoth" construction of 27,400 sq m against an FSI of 2,570 sq m. "The total construction area is more than ten times the FSI computation," it said. 

 


Several ongoing projects of D B Realty in the Worli-Prabhadevi belt could escape paying the premium. The developer of Orbit Grand, a luxury tower at Lower Parel, also found its project stuck after it had to reduce its total area from 85,000 sq ft to 70,000 sq ft. The notification will allow the builder to now utilise the entire area without payment of premium. 

 


"Many builders who had paid the fungible FSI premium to BMC will now try and seek a refund," said a top developer. 

 


Source: The Times of India dated June 1, 2015