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Growth pangs in the heritage city

R. Krishna Kumar
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Mysore should freeze vertical growth in the old areas due to the consequential pressure on infrastructure but opt for it in the new areas to curb the city’s horizontal sprawl. A look at the issue by R. Krishna Kumar

CREDAI has objected to the inclusion of open balcony, staircase and corridors in buildings for the calculation of FAR and sought exemption as these are not usable areas.– Photo: M.A. Sriram
CREDAI has objected to the inclusion of open balcony, staircase and corridors in buildings for the calculation of FAR and sought exemption as these are not usable areas.– Photo: M.A. Sriram

Let alone horizontal expansion, Mysore’s haphazard growth is a hindrance to the well-being of its citizens as it witnesses lacklustre planning, even as there is non-relaxation in the Floor Area Ratio.

The issue gains significance in view of the slow but steady growth in the popularity of apartments among end-users as this enables them to offset the rising real estate prices. Builders believe this sentiment has been lost sight of by the policy-makers as evident in the Mysore Master Plan 2031 which has not earmarked areas for high-rise development.

By ignoring the prevailing trends in the real estate scene and overlooking the need of the salaried class’ preference for quality housing at an affordable cost in the city limits, the authorities are unwittingly playing into the hands of the land mafia and the real estate sharks who are sitting pretty on huge land banks within a radius of 15 to 20 km of the city and creating a demand for them.

Mismatch

Given the end-users’ preference for housing within the jurisdiction of the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) and the mismatch between demand and supply, the land value has spiralled northward with no signs of correction in the near future. Forcing people to purchase land on the outskirts will result in a transaction beneficial to the real estate sharks.

But development will remain frozen as these localities earmarked for residential areas, mostly on the Mysore-Hunsur Road, Mysore-Bannur Road, and Mysore-H.D.Kote Road, are not in a “ready-to-construct” state.

With improvement in connectivity, infrastructure and services by way of schools, medicare, market, ATMs etc may render these areas self-sufficient in the future. But Mysore’s physical growth is constrained by other economic parameters like slow industrial development and employment generation. So, development of Mysore beyond the periphery in a radius of 15 to 20 km of the existing boundaries of the MCC is a long haul ahead.

Hence apartments are being perceived as the next best alternative though the majority sentiment is skewed towards individual custom-made units.

In view of a lack of clear-cut policy to cater to the emerging sentiment, high-rise structures are coming up in old areas of the city and new residential localities whose infrastructure is not equipped or geared to handle the dense growth.

Not surprisingly, NGOs and other stakeholders of Mysore have voiced their concern over the present state of affairs.

“The existing sewage and drainage pipes, and water supply lines are geared to handle the load for individual residences. If 20 to 30 units come up at a place designed for two or three units, then the infrastructure will creak under pressure and create chaos in the long run”, according to M. Lakshman of the Association of Concerned and Informed Citizens of Mysore.

A view endorsed by the Mysore City Corporation Commissioner, M.R. Ravi, who pointed out that there were as many as 150 high-rise apartments in the city and their numbers were increasing, forcing the Corporation to ramp up the infrastructure by replacing drainage pipes and water supply system in view of the dense growth.

But leading builders and members of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI), Mysore chapter, have pointed out that with the growing saturation of Bangalore and the concomitant growth pangs being experienced in that city, the demand for housing in Mysore will outpace the supply and apartments are the only solution in the medium to long run.

This trend will accelerate with the imminent completion of the railway track doubling work and electrification of lines between Bangalore and Mysore by December 2013. Once completed, the commuting time between the two cities will significantly reduce, making Mysore an attractive investment option for people in Bangalore.

But unfortunately, the Mysore-Nanjangud Local Planning Area 2031 — also called the Mysore Master Plan 2031 — has not taken cognisance of this issue. CREDAI members are disappointed that the plan document in its present format has not earmarked areas for high-rise development.

As Nagkumar of CREDAI- Mysore said, the Mysore Urban Development Authority should anticipate high-rise development in the new residential areas and make adequate provisions for water supply, drainage and road width to ensure planned growth and not choke the existing infrastructure.

Though the Master Plan has provided in Zone I an additional FAR of 0.25 for plots between 360 sq. m and 4000 sq. m and 0.5 additional FAR for plots above 4000 sq. m, CREDAI has pointed out that the proposal is unrealistic as there are no plots of 4000 sq. m in zone 1 which constitutes the old areas of the city. Hence it has sought a modification of the same and demanded an additional FAR of 0.50 for plots between 360 sq. m and 4000 sq. m.

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