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Let us first understand the concept of DCR. The Development Control Regulations, shortly knows as (DCR) for Greater Mumbai, 1991, apply as a regulatory compulsion on building activities and development work in areas under the jurisdiction of Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay. The Regulation came into force on March 25, 1991 which replaced the Development Control Rules (DCR) for Greater Bombay framed under Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966.

The DC Regulations state (in simple terms) that every person who wishes to carry out development or redevelopment of a building or alter any building or part of a building is to give a notice to the Commissioner, along with plans and statements. Construction is to be carried out in conformity to the regulations. 

Under the DCR, the Metropolitan Commissioner is the final authority for interpretation of its provisions and his decision would be final. The Metropolitan Commissioner could use his discretion to condone provisions of these Regulations except the provisions related to FSI.

In January 2012, the Government of Maharashtra announced further amendments to the Development Control Rules (DCR) for Mumbai with the primary motive of bringing in transparency and reducing arbitrary and discretionary decision-making at various levels. The new rules would mean pricing based on maximum available FSI, eliminating the ambiguity that was largely prevalent earlier with respect to disproportionate saleable area.

Earlier, the Developers used to build about 30 to 40 per cent more as ‘free-of-FSI’ space which was popularly known as ‘super built-up’ or ‘saleable’ area. However, in both the cases, the Developer used to charge the buyer for every inch of this external space at the same rate as that of the flat.

For example, one such Developer builds 40 per cent additional space over and above the flat size of say 800 sq ft carpet area i.e. 320 sq ft aggregating 1120 sq.ft identified as built up area. If the rate is Rs 20,000 per sq ft, he would earn on entire built up area, an additional Rs 64 lakhs whereas in reality, the buyer get only 800 sq.ft as habitable carpet area. One can easily calculate the profits the Developer stands to make from every other flat.

Under the new DCR, areas for balcony, flower-beds, terraces, voids, niches would be counted in the FSI. These were not earlier considered in FSI calculations. To compensate for this loss in FSI, the Government has allowed Compensatory Fungible FSI of up to 35% for Residential Developments and 20% for Industrial and Commercial Developments. This can be used either for bigger habitatable area or for balcony, flower-beds, terraces, voids, niches etc.

Fungible FSI will be available at 60%, 80% and 100% of the Ready Reckoner Rates for Residential, Industrial and Commercial Developments respectively. Under the new norms the Developers will have an option of 25% more parking over the DCR limit without premium and without being counted in FSI, which would bring some much needed relief to Developers and End-Users alike.

Tenants, Housing Society members and Slum-Dwellers can now demand more space from Builders redeveloping properties. Amended Development Control Rules approved by the State Government in last January, 2012 grant 35% compensatory Floor Space Index (FSI) free to the rehab component of the redevelopment project. But it is not known if the Builder or flat owner will have to pay for the additional space.

Among the beneficiaries could be tenants living in the over 16,000 old and dilapidated cessed buildings in the island city. Tenants are currently entitled to 300-700 square feet houses free when their buildings are redeveloped. But if the flat is larger than 700 sq ft, Builders provide an equivalent area to the tenant in the redeveloped property.

The tenants and Housing Societies will have to bargain hard with Builders for the extra 35% area. "They must insist Developers pay for additional areas,'' they said. Some Developers said they may ask tenants to pay the basic cost of construct-ion for the extra area, depending on the plot's development potential.

The compensatory FSI for the rehab portion is "Free of Premium'', but it is up to the Builder to provide the extra area to the tenant or flat owner. The 35% extra FSI will be on the built-up area of the existing flat

Under the amended rules, areas like balcony, flower beds and niches are counted in the building's FSI; the ratio which determines how much can be built on a plot. In lieu, Builders receive compensatory FSI of 35% for residential buildings for which they are charged a hefty premium based on Ready-Reckoner Rates. Experts said eligible slum-dwellers entitled to 269 sq ft tenement free, can now demand over 300 sq ft as compensatory FSI is available to the rehab slum building too.