Allowing Higher Density to Fix Slums

Despite its economic dynamism, Mumbai is known for a lack of adequate housing. Citywide increases to maximum Floor Space Indices (i.e., Floor Area Ratios) will increase living space per resident, provided the right redevelopment takes place.

1 minute read

February 24, 2015, 7:00 AM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Mumbai Slum

M M / Flickr

People from all over India want to live in Mumbai, with its plentiful economic opportunities and vibrant urban culture. Matthew Yglesias reports on an urban policy change that might help them migrate without settling in slums.

Since long before Mumbai became a sprawling metropolis of 12 million people, local policies limited development to a maximum of 1.33 FSI in the central city (1.00 FSI in outlying suburbs). Equivalent to American floor area ratio (FAR), FSI measures built floor space against total lot size. There is a proposal in place to raise FSI to as high as eight in some districts.

Substantial increases to allowed FSI will spur denser construction in lower-income areas, reducing the need for unregulated slum and shantytown development. The article speculates on the possibility of similar initiatives in other Indian cities to accommodate migrants. However, slum redevelopment always runs the risk of disrupting the urban fabric and the lives of residents. 

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