High rises: committee tightens regulations

Reining in developers who violate open space and other norms governing the construction of towers, the committee that gives the final nod for all high-rise buildings in Mumbai has issued orders that every such proposal should be vetted by it even before construction permits are obtained from the civic body.

The six-member high rise committee, consisting of officials from the civic development plan department, fire department, private architects and civil engineers, was formed five years ago to vet the proposals for high rises. Under the definition, a high rise is any building over 70 metres in height (approximately 20 storeys).

However, a recent circular issued by the committee states that several developers have been dodging the mandatory regulations required to be followed during construction of towers. "The committee has noticed that in many ongoing projects, the developers have obtained the IOD/CC for height of building less than 70 metres, started construction and thereafter they come to the high rise committee for construction of floors above 70 metres," the circular states.

It goes on to say that this has created problems with regards to structural safety, environment, disaster and fire safety norms. The committee has hence issued orders that its approval should be sought in case the builder intends to go above 70 metres even if the approval from the BMC for exceeding that height is pending.

According to a senior civic official, who is also a committee member, there are stringent rules for high rises. For instance, any building over 70 metres should have a minimum open space, two staircases and a minimum 9-metre road width. "However, developers first apply for building permission showing the height of the building as 69.9 metres and start construction by evading these mandatory rules. Then they approach the high rise committee stating that they have decided to utilise the entire floor space index and go higher vertically. Since most of the building will be constructed by then, it will be too late to stick to any of the norms," the official said.

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