08 May, 2021

Cess La Vie

Cess La Vie
The big talking point in Bombay nowadays is not the nuclear deal. It is something much closer home: the recent striking down by the Supreme Court of a high court ruling that could have a profound effect on all those living in the island city, from Mahim to Colaba. Our highest court has said, in effect, that developers are entitled to unlimited FSI for the redevelopment of what are called "cessed" buildings. A "cessed" building is one that pays the municipality a cess for maintenance and upkeep. There are over 16,000 such buildings which pre-date 1940, nearly all in shockingly bad condition, a blight on our financial capital. For the uninitiated, FSI is floor space index, which is the area on which you can build on a particular plot of land. The existing FSI is extremely low, which means few highrises are permitted and therefore very little new construction has taken place in recent years.

After the Supreme Court ruling, urban planners like Shirish Patel and heritage experts like Abha Lamba and Sharada Dwivedi are dismayed, since the ruling seems to include heritage...

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