Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday set
aside Maharashtra government`s decision to increase the Floor
Space Index (FSI) in Mumbai suburbs.
The ruling also put paid to the state`s plan to
increase revenue by sale of additional FSI at a premium.
FSI indicates the construction permissible on a plot
of land. In October 2008, government had increased FSI for
Mumbai suburbs from existing 1 to 1.33.
It meant that additional construction was possible in
suburbs. Government was going to charge a "premium", ranging
between Rs 7,000 and Rs 23,000 per sq metre for this,
depending on the locality.
A PIL filed by activists Amit Maru and Arun Gaikwad
had challenged the notification on the ground that it would
put enormous burden on civic infrastructure.
The division bench of Justices F I Rebello and Amjed
Sayed today said that under the Maharashtra Regional and Town
Planning (MRTP) Act, 1966, government cannot charge any
additional fee, or premium, so the notification was illegal.
The notification issued under MRTP Act was stayed by
the court following the filing of the PIL.
But the court said: "MRTP Act does not provide for
levy and collection of development charge (in this case a
premium) by the development authority", therefore the
notification was beyond the scope of MRTP act.
In the island city of Mumbai, FSI of 1.33 is already
allowed. The proposal to increase the FSI in suburbs was first
mooted in the state finance minister`s 2008-09 budget speech.
The Finance Minister had said that by sale of extra
FSI at a premium, the state can earn substantial revenue some
of which could be used to create a development fund for
minorities. According to the notification, some of the money
earned would be used for infrastructure development.
State`s advocate general Ravi Kadam had argued that
additional FSI would bring the house prices in suburbs down.
Interestingly, the court did not take into account the
other objections raised by the petitioners, such as burden on
infrastructure which additional construction would have put,
or its environmental impact.