The State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) has not approved a single rental housing proposal since its first meeting in September 2011, for the mandatory green nod, citing the massive density arising out of the very nature of such mass housing projects.
According to town planning norms, the ideal density is 400 tenements per hectare, which means a maximum of 400 families, can live over an area of one hectare without bearing down on the infrastructure such as open spaces, roads or amenities such as transport, water supply and sewerage.
Most rental housing projects before the SEAC exceed the ideal tenement density by as much as 5 to 15 times. In its last meeting, the panel denied environment clearance to two projects near Panvel—the 16 acre Arihant Akanksha and 28 acre Indiabulls Greens, for having a density of up to 2,000 houses per hectare.
Also pending before SEAC are similar high-density projects by Darvesh Properties in Mahajanwadi (Thane), Pranshu Developers in Nilje village (Kalyan), Dhariwal builders at Kolke village (Panvel), a project each by Square Feet Builders and Dosti Friends Development Corporation at Manpada (Thane), among several others.
The rental housing policy of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) allows atotal FSI (ratio of built-up area to plot area) of four. Of this, builders have to hand over construction equal to an FSI of one to the MMRDA and instead they get to utilise the remaining FSI of three for their sale component. However, many of these projects have tweaked norms to consume a total FSI of as high as six to eight.
A SEAC member, who didn’t wish to be named, said the ambitious rental housing scheme will end up denting the infrastructure and environment. “The size of the houses is inversely proportionate to the density, as smaller the apartments in a building the more families it can accommodate. The rental housing buildings with houses as tiny as 160 sq ft and the builder’s sale component with its high FSI are together bound to put a great strain on services,” said the member. He added that while the earlier SEAC cleared 12 rental housing proposals before September 2011, the present panel hasn’t approved any.