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

Shirish B PatelSubscribe to Shirish B Patel

Rethinking Regional Planning

As India urbanises, every city and town should brace itself for growth. Each such city or town will look for precedents in the country and planning models to emulate. One such will inevitably be Mumbai. So we need to assess Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s Draft Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Plan 2016–36, and see it not just in relation to its area of concern, but also in the context of wider application as an aspirational model.

Why Flyovers Will Fall

The coal secretary recently blamed the "5Cs"-- Central Vigilance Commission, Central Information Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation, Comptroller and Auditor General and the courts--for inhibiting quick and effective decision-making and impeding the country's development. The steady and continuing decline of the civil engineering profession in India has its roots in policies mandated by the Comptroller and Auditor General in regard to the procurement of consultancy services.

Housing for All by 2022

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, a central government scheme of subsidies for low-income housing, is singularly unimaginative and poorly thought-through. It is unlikely to deliver worthwhile results. The promised funds could be far more effectively deployed if used differently. This article examines the scheme's deficiencies and suggests options that should be explored. It also considers the Model Tenancy Act of April 2015 and the National Urban Rental Housing Policy (Draft) released in October 2015. The article argues that these policy statements are unlikely to lead anywhere, at least in regard to increasing the supply of rental housing to low-income groups.

Community Land Reserves

Community Land Reserves (called Community Land Trusts in the US) have been in existence around the world for over 40 years. They are non-profit organisations with a mission to provide affordable housing to low income groups, for all time. Someone starts one off by providing a gift of land. The organisation then takes this gift of land off the market to hold it in trust forever thereafter. Ownership of the land remains with the organisation, which cannot sell it. Individual parcels are given out to owners who build on them and own the construction but not the land. On resale, the owner recoups the cost of his construction, adjusted to present-day value, but not the appreciation in land value. As a result, the incoming occupant can also get housing at an affordable price, because it is unburdened by land value. Critical to success are the format of governance of the organisation and the resale formula.

When Planning Becomes a Ritual

The debate over Mumbai's Development Plan 2034 has exposed the fault lines in the urban planning process. Apart from the problems posed by multiple autonomous agencies and a state government that has virtual veto powers, the development plan, as it stands today, ultimately favours builders instead of improving Mumbai's environment and quality of life for its citizens.

Affordable Housing with Spatial Justice, For All

The paper suggests a scheme for affordable housing in peri-urban areas. It works across all income groups, and draws its inspiration from a project started 30 years ago in north-western Mumbai which can be seen today as completely successful. It calls for a mixing of income groups in the same locality and delivers spatial equity simply by the manner of its layout, with no additional effort required in that direction. Each household pays for its housing in proportion to its income. There is no need for external subsidies, provided land and infrastructure can be made available within cost limits determined by the income profile of the city or town in which it is taken up.

Balkanisation of Urban Planning

The Maharashtra government does not seem to be serious about urban planning. The development plan is a meaningless exercise in accordance with a law that is 50 years out of date. The current situation is a balkanisation of urban planning with a host of different agencies looking at land use and transportation planning along with policy interventions by departments of the state and central governments. There is an urgent need for a central coordinator of urban plans even if the detailed work is done by different agencies.

Revisiting the Real Estate Bill, 2013

The central government has introduced the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013, which sets up a regulatory authority to protect consumers as well as promote the real estate sector. This article compares various provisions of the bill with a 2011 draft as well as a bill introduced in the Maharashtra legislature in 2012. It also provides a brief overview of the regulatory mechanisms in different countries for governing the real estate industry. It fi nds that the bill has serious defi ciencies and will do little to help either customers or builders. It will only add one more layer of bureaucracy to an already tedious real estate development process.

Relaxing FSI

With reference to Jan K Brueckner and Kala S Sridhar’s “In Defence of Relaxed FSI Limits” (EPW, 28 September 2013), my problem with arguments about whether or not to relax FSI (floor space index) is that it continues to be regarded as an independent variable, something that can be compared across...

More FSI, More Welfare?

The World Bank has been pressing for removal of restrictions on floor space index (or at least its considerable relaxation) in the inner parts of Mumbai and Bangalore. This article considers the monocentric-city model on which the argument for lifting restrictions is based, and finds the model is oversimplifi ed and negligent of important relevant parameters. There are a number of other arguments which also contest the recommendation that a blanket raising of FSI in the inner cities would result in an overall welfare gain.

Life between Buildings

The World Bank has been complaining that Indian cities are not making optimal use of their land and has been pressing for upward revisions of the floor space index, particularly in Mumbai and Bangalore. However, the bald comparison of FSI across cities that the WB presents is seriously misleading. This paper proposes a new metric, crowding, defined as the number of persons per hectare for a particular urban use. Thus we have indoor crowding, park crowding, and amenity crowding. How the new metric of crowding might be used in planning or replanning urban areas in general and the major policy changes that need to be made if Mumbai's housing shortage is to be seriously addressed is also discussed.

Inclusionary Housing

Now that governments all over the world have stopped building public housing, alternative policies are needed to ensure that the lower income groups in towns and cities have access to decent and affordable housing. "Inclusionary housing" offers a set of policies to meet this need. Its central feature is that whenever any new floor space is built, for whatever reason, a portion of the built space is set aside for housing those who cannot afford what the market offers by way of rental or ownership housing. Building such accommodation is the responsibility of the developer; managing it thereafter is in the hands of a different agency, and subsidising the families that live there is a third function separated from the first two.

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