There are fears that the move may trigger rise in realty prices. As calculating FSI was cumbersome, technical and incomprehensible to citizens; moreover, it was also becoming difficult for the regulatory authorities to ensure sanctioned plans are adhered to at the ground level, the government decided to remove FSI from the building permissions ambit.The height of the building and built up space was dependent on just plot sizes, setbacks, road widths etc., instead of complex calculations.

Floor Space Index (FSI) aka Floor Area Ratio (FAR) has been missing from the lexicon of building regulations ever since the common building rules came into force.

Of late, a section of real estate developers seem to have successfully lobbied with the Government to bring it back even as there are fears of it leading to a rise in real estate prices.

FSI/FAR gives an indication of how much built up space can be constructed based on different parameters of setbacks, road widths and of course, the plot size.

A FSI of 1:1.5 indicates that three times built up space is available and a high ratio of 1:4 was also issued in some areas in the city, say senior officials.

Complex calculations

As calculating FSI was cumbersome, technical and incomprehensible to citizens; moreover, it was also becoming difficult for the regulatory authorities to ensure sanctioned plans are adhered to at the ground level, the government decided to remove FSI from the building permissions ambit.

The height of the building and built up space was dependent on just plot sizes, setbacks, road widths etc., instead of complex calculations.

Panel formed

Now there’s a rethink and a committee of senior officials – heads of HMDA, GHMC, DTCP and Water Board have been formed to study whether removing the FSI factor has led to any indiscriminate high density growth and the situation during the FSI and after it was removed.

The panel has met a few times in recent times and is looking into FSI trends in other cities. Incidentally, Hyderabad and A.P. was the first in the country to remove FSI and continues to be the lone wolf at the top.

Official contention

“FSI was removed from the building rules only after much discussion and debate with the stakeholders. Various amendments were also made to the common building rules to ensure maximum built up space is obtained like allowing stilt plus five floors in plots abutting 30 ft roads. This has led to the real estate prices being held at optimum levels when compared to other cities,” argue senior officials, wishing to remain unnamed.

Fear is that re-introducing FSI would lead to jacking up the rates as the builders will not get that ‘extra built up space’. Official corridors of the municipal department are also abuzz about certain real estate developers wanting to ‘control’ the prospective building activity within the core city and channel it towards the suburbs where they own large tracts of land.

The divide

There is also the great divide between policy makers, builders, architects - those pushing for vertical growth to reduce commuting time of citizens plus ills of allowing the city to expand beyond manageable limits on one hand and on the other side, inadequate civic infrastructure in terms of roads, drains and water is pointed out if vertical growth is allowed.

“A detailed technical study is required to study the current growth, population density and traffic flows before any final decision is taken on re-introducing FSI as it will have a big impact even on the price front,” observes B. Purushothama Reddy, former Director of Town & Country Planning (DTCP) and currently a consultant with the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA).

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