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Flawed legislation on premium FAR

One of the biggest concerns arising out of the Bill is that the government is looking at the proposal from the prism of revenue augmentation rather than urban planning.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 01:55 IST

The Siddaramaiah government has sought to amend The Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act (1961) to collect a higher fee and allow Premium (additional) Floor Area Ratio (FAR). FAR is the ratio of the total plot area to the total building area, and is determined by the size of the plot and width of the road in front of it.

While Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar, who piloted the Bill in the Assembly, argued that the move would remove the ambiguity in calculation of charges collected for grant of premium FAR, the legislation raises more questions than it answers.

The Bill envisages setting up of an authority to grant permission for premium FAR at a rate not less than 40% of the guidance value. The maximum premium FAR will not exceed 0.6 times or 60% of the ordinarily permissible FAR. The maximum additional FAR that may be purchased for a building will be as specified in the zonal regulation of the Master Plan.

On a positive note, the Bill specifies that the amount realised will be utilised only for the purpose of land acquisition and infrastructure development within the jurisdiction of the planning authority concerned. The fund will not be used for repair, maintenance or other miscellaneous works.

One of the biggest concerns arising out of the Bill is that the government is looking at the proposal from the prism of revenue augmentation rather than urban planning. This can have disastrous consequences, especially for a city like Bengaluru which is already bursting at the seams.  Any move to permit additional FAR over and above what is currently permitted, without first finalising the Comprehensive Development Plan, is akin to putting the cart before the horse.

The Bill also raises a question over the future of the government’s stated policy of Transit Oriented Development (ToD) along the Namma Metro corridor. The new proposal is certain to lead to higher density of development in areas that are not serviced by Namma Metro, defeating the very purpose of ToD.

This will not only lead to traffic congestion, but also add to the stress on infrastructure. Once the Bill becomes an Act, those who were granted Transferable Development Rights (TDR) in lieu of land acquired by the government may find their certificates useless, as builders can now buy premium FAR directly.

The Bill is half-baked and surely not in the interest of organised growth of urban areas like Bengaluru. The government should withdraw the Bill and bring in a new law that focuses on overall planning, rather than on revenue accrual alone.

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(Published 26 February 2024, 01:55 IST)

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