Higher FSI sought along Metro corridors to increase use of service; CMDA wants CMRL to prove it can first cater to existing population
In a blow to Chennai Metro Rail Ltd (CMRL), the city’s planning agency has said it is unlikely to grant Metro Rail’s demand for a higher FSI (floor space index) for buildings along the Metro corridors.
CMRL had asked for the FSI for these buildings to be increased from the current 1.5, as this would allow more people to live in them, thereby potentially increasing the number of people who use the Metro.
However, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, which oversees FSI in the city, has asked CMRL to prove that it has a ‘protective mechanism’ in place – in other words, that it can cater to the existing population, before a demand for higher FSI is considered.
CMDA officials said they were concerned about a possible exploitation by residents if the FSI was relaxed.
“Residents make use of the relaxed FSI on these stretches but may continue to use cars and this would not serve the intended purpose,” an official said.
Officials said the ‘protective mechanism’ that CMRL could put in place to popularise the Metro could include free rides at certain times, low ticket rates, comfortable rides and adequate connectivity.
According to an earlier study by CMDA, the number of people using Metro Rail will reach a saturation point on both corridor I (Washermenpet to Chennai airport) and corridor II (Chennai Central to St. Thomas Mount) within two years.
So if the FSI is relaxed, this could lead to more traffic congestion in these areas, a CMDA official said.
He added that CMRL should be focussing on land use management and parking management along its corridors instead of focussing on FSI relaxation. “How can Metro Rail ensure that residents along the corridor use their service? If the FSI is relaxed, new residents of the neighbourhood may still use their cars,” the official said.
On Monday, the draft of a final report on an August 2012 study was submitted to the CMDA. This study, conducted by a consultant on the densification of CMRL corridors, looked at 10,000 households.
The study concluded that densification – or a higher population in these areas, would support optimum use of the Metro Rail. While the report recommended the granting of higher FSI to buildings within 500 metres on either side of the corridors, CMRL is still not convinced.
However, a final decision will only be taken by the State government, possibly within the next few months.
“Metro Rail has been introduced to help reduce traffic congestion on certain stretches. So CMRL cannot ask for a higher FSI before proving that the purpose for which it was introduced can be attained,” a CMDA official said.