MUMBAI: BMC will allow 25-storey buildings on plots that can be accessed by two six-metre wide roads to facilitate movement of fire engines. Currently, highrises or 70-metre tall buildings can be constructed on roads that are mandatorily nine-metre wide. Several activists are up in arms against this guideline and warn of fire traps and hazards.
"Where in Mumbai do you get a road where cars are not parked on either side? This itself reduces the width of the road and makes it difficult for fire engines to access a highrise. This amounts to playing with lives," said a real estate analyst.
P K Das, architect and civic activist, said such single disparate guidelines are responsible for anarchic growth of the city. "When such guidelines are issued, there is no perspective given on its effects on the city as a whole. It is largely done to serve a particular interest," he said.
The guideline is one of several issued by BMC's technical advisory committee recently. It reads: "If the plot is accessible by two different accesses of minimum six-metre width for entry and exit of fire engine, the development/redevelopment of the building proposed up to the height of 70 metres (approximately 25 storeys) only may be considered on its merits with special permission of the commissioner, subject to specific clearance of chief fire officer."
Fire department officials said a Supreme Court order in case of buildings being redeveloped under sections 33(7) and 33 (10) of the Development Control Regulations require a nine-metre wide road on one side and a six-metre wide open space or a six-metre road on the other.
"This is sacrosanct and not being touched," said one.
In case of other constructions, access via a six-metre wide road is not an issue as two fire vehicles can easily pass, but the guideline is silent on open space required for fire equipment to be able to maneuver to fight a blaze. "For 24-55-metre buildings, we want a six-metre wide open space. Above 55 metres, it must be nine metres to fight fire," said sources.
Activists say instead of pushing for cluster redevelopment that would ensure buildings on smaller plots are developed along with those on larger ones, BMC continues to promote single plot redevelopment.
In cluster redevelopment, the city would benefit too as it would get better infrastructure, including wider roads, more storm water drains, parking, parks, theatres and schools, among such others. G D Chiplunkar, a consultant to realty agencies, said the guideline is to be welcomed. "Cluster redevelopment sounds nice on paper but reality is very different. When two societies on a single plot refuse to negotiate on redevelopment, what chance does cluster redevelopment stand?"