History of Mumbai Regional Plan and FSI thereof

mmrdaregionalplanBy Dr Sanjay Chaturvedi, LLB, PhD

The B.M.C. Act was enacted in 1888 giving rise to Local Self Government. This was the first attempt to regulate the functioning of the City in a planned manner.

After ‘the plague of 1896’, quarter of the population deserted Mumbai. The city faced commercial extinction. In order to improve hygienic conditions BMC was compelled to provide proper drainage, clean water and planned reclamation.

Towards this Mumbai City Improvement Trust was established in 1898. This was the first attempt to undo the evils of unplanned development in the City.

From the beginning of the 20th Century, the City saw many measures to fight the ills of unchecked migration and allow development in a planned manner.

  1. The Mumbai Town Planning Act was enacted in 1915. Under the obligatory provisions of this Act, various Town Planning schemes were framed by the B.M.C. for the city and local Municipal Councils from Bandra to Borivali and Ghatkopar.
  2. The Mumbai Development Department was established in 1920.
  3. The Bombay Development Department (BDD) undertook massive housing schemes in the City what is now known as BDD Chawls and also reclamation at Backbay.
  4. After independence there was heavy influx to the city. The network of roads and other infrastructural facilities considerably helped the growth of industries, business and trade. The Mumbai Housing Board was established in 1949 mainly to provide cheap housing to industrial workers.
  5. First major effort of urban planning was the Modak Meyor Master Plan of 1948. Mumbai’s overall growth was the ultimate aim.
  6. As the city became too congested, the limits of the city were first extended in 1950 to cover the area of suburbs i.e. H&K Wards in Western Suburbs and L, M, N Wards in the Eastern Suburbs. Later on in 1957 the extended suburbs consisting of P&R Wards in the West and T Ward in the East added.
  7. In 1954, a compulsory legislation was passed empowering M.C.G.B.N. to undertake slum clearance in Bombay.
  8. The Mumbai Town Planning Act of 1954 replaced the earlier Act of 1915. The New Act made it obligatory for local authorities to prepare the Development Plans for the areas administered by them within the stipulated period in addition to the preparation of the Town Planning Schemes.
  9. The Mumbai Town Planning Act, 1954 was replaced by a modified Act named Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning Act, 1966, which covered the enactment’s keeping in view the regional aspects of its development ad growth.
  10. This paved way to the First Development Plan of 1964.

It was the Regional Plan for BMR (1971-90), that for the first time, the housing situation in Region as a whole was assessed. The principal recommendations of the Regional Plan were,

a)      The Region over a decade 1971-81 would require 7,57,000 units of which 88% would require some kind of financial assistance.

b)      Recognising the crucial importance of land in housing, the Plan recommended social control on urban land values; and as an interim measure proposed bulk land acquisition of large areas by public authority.

c)      Decentralisation of economic activities was recommended for opening up of new-less expensive –lands for housing.

d)     Rejecting the idea of diluting the minimum areas standard for permanent tenements, the Plan expressed no objection to such dilution to some extent only for semi-permanent structures.

e)      Continuous research for lowering cost of construction, including prefabrication and mass production of housing components.

f)       Public housing programs should shift from construction of pucca housing to provision of environmental hygiene where houses are built by self-help or aided self-help as a transitional measure.

g)      Exemption from rent control for new buildings constructed after a certain date on the lines of Vidarbha legislation.

h)      Tax incentives in Income Tax Act on income earned through rentals and expenditure on repairs. Measures to mobiles unaccounted money for housing.

i)        Conversion of rental units to ownership units of Housing Board particularly those under Subsidised Industrial Housing and Slum Clearance Housing schemes.

j)        In-situ improvement to be preferred to eradication of slums. However, for achieving high density through ground storeyed structures a rigid layout pattern has to be imposed and for that all the huts have to be demolished and re-erected.

k)      A new legislation enabling compulsory land acquisition for slum improvement may be enacted.

l)        Construction of night shelters.


Although the Regional Plan was sanctioned in 1973, these recommendations were not translated in any concrete investment program. Some actions and projects of later period appear to be follow-up of these recommendations, but their origins are not necessarily in the Regional Plan. This raises some general institutional problems regarding implementation of Regional Plan.

Annual need for new housing for incremental households in BMR has grown from 46,000 units during the 60s to about 60,000 in the 70s and 66,000 during 1981-91. The Multi purpose Household Survey carried out by MMRDA in 1989 provides information on household size in various zones of BMR. Applying these household sizes, households in the entire Region are estimated to increase by 3.80 lakhs during 1991-96. The five yearly increase in number of households would gradually increase to 4.68 lakhs by 2016-21. While carrying out these estimations, however, a 7% decrease over each 5 year period is assumed in the size of households in view of the probable increase in the proportion of nuclear families and reduction in family size. Although actual accretion of households is estimated by applying the household sizes for yearly population increase, simple averages for 5 yearly periods are also estimated of incremental households worked out for Greater Mumbai and Rest of BMR. The estimates for BMR as a whole are independently worked out and are also given below (for details please refer Tables 11A, 11B and 11C). Also given below is the distribution of incremental households by various broad zones in BMR.


The annual average of incremental households during 1991-96 would be 76,000 for the BMR. This would gradually increase to 93,000 during 2016-2021. The geographical distribution of incremental households would change considerably during this period. During 1991-96 39% of growth, or 30,000 households per year, will take place in Greater Mumbai. During 2016-21, however, Greater Mumbai would still account for about 31,000 households forming only 33% of total growth. This dispersal of population growth is indicative of substantial investment requirements in land and infrastructure in areas outside Greater Mumbai.


Looking at the current level of reducing family size as per 2011 census, the city is having its own inclusive growth rather than migration. Hence the city needs its own occupation and hence Regional Plan needs to be published as soon as possible.

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