Impact Of Building Bye-laws On Housing In Indian Cities


Cities in developing countries seldom consider the cost increases that regulations impose on development. The development plan of the city or town attempts to evolve scientific and rational policies to meet the functional needs of the city and aspirations of its citizens. There are many standard costs imposed on building construction which makes them less affordable for the low-income group. Planning of land use and construction activities require control on it by some regulations. These regulations affect many parameters of urban development which have a direct impact on the development of the city. Regulations determine the cost of construction and the amount of land consumed to build housing. Municipal and development authorities give insufficient consideration to the fiscal impact of rules but while regulations are mandated with the best of intentions but rigid regulations make building more expensive. One could argue that existing infrastructure in developing countries is insufficient and so higher densities ( higher FAR) cannot be absorbed. The government has made policies to provide houses to all. It has encouraged this policy in Five Year Plans and through other policies regarding finance and land use. The best way to achieve a goal of increasing existing infrastructure. A few regulations are a result of efforts to keep densities low, prevent land from being developed intensely, and limit the number of units that can build on the ground. However, usually with an increase in the FAR, the population or employment density tends to actually decrease. When we increase FAR we increase the floor space per person, so more space is built on the same land but people consume more of it and density decreases.


In India, building bye-laws are framed taking into account the National Building Code or NBC and state government acts. The noticing factor is with an increase in the FAR, the population or employment density tends actually to decrease. The primary reason for this is an increase in floor area consumption. Whether density would increase or decrease following an increase in FAR depends on demand for the built area. We need to re-design and think about infrastructure in the regions where a sizeable FAR increase projected. One of the best tools to achieve this goal is to make modifications in development control regulations and building bye-laws.  While each state should make modifications as per their local requirements and traditions and not following NBC strictly.

Source: Lok Sabha

Source: Lok Sabha

Without higher FAR, real estate projects are also usually not financially feasible. The various parameters affecting the quality of life are related to policies guiding building bye-laws. The concept of affordable housing is limited to Indian cities, and most of it is government built. Restrictive regulations have prevented the private sector from supplying affordable housing at a scale that can make a difference. Though developers in India developers have started building affordable, quality housing. Developers have initiated affordable housing projects in various cities and are getting a robust return on investment.

Low Far

Construction of high-rises is barred in New Delhi – Hindustan Times

Regulations in India are one of the many constraints in a complex, bureaucratic process. These constraints add to the cost, time, and risks for the developer and thus affect the availability of housing. With very low FARs, the city expands unnecessarily which leads to the financial infeasibility of public transport originating from these areas. The low FAR of cities like Delhi and Mumbai has also led to an artificial increase in rents per square foot and land prices. This unfavorably impacted the urban poor who have had to consume lower floor area space where they live in slums or near the footpath. The only reason being that the city cannot compete with the increased consumption of the more affluent household. The poor therefore seek shelter in informal housing like slums or footpaths. A research by Alain Bertaud (Senior Research Scholar at New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management) in 2004 showed that houses consume an average of only 2.9 square meters of floor space per person in Mumbai, the lowest residential floor areas per person in the world and more than half of Mumbai’s population lives in slums.

The tidal flow of population is not, merely due to the “pull” of city lights, most of it is distress migration from villages to urban centers. The marginal earners (landless laborers, etc.) whose existence can no longer be sustained by rural areas. Most of the infrastructure needed to commentate this in enlarge urban population, as well as to meet the needs of today’s urban poor who still lack minimum facilities, is yet to be built. As income level rise and if current trends continue the pressure on already congested roads will be enormous. The housing also is required for the estimated 17.4 % of urban households living in slums as well as for new migrants and growing population overall. This pressure is significant, but they can be seen as opportunities to build sustainable cities rather than retrofit cities that have most of the infrastructure in place.

Sustainable Cities : Challenge of rearranging the scenery of India

Photo by Hindustan Times

The weak enforcement machinery is responsible for the non-implementation of building laws. Implementation of development policies has been characterized by delays and poor execution of projects and programs. Strong integration policies are needed that support urban migrants in finding jobs, living in a socially mixed neighborhood. How cities designed and constructed help in integration of policy.  Well-designed  urban patterns and functioning public spaces that serve as meeting places for urban dwellers can aid in facilitating interaction, connectivity, and social mixing all essential aspects of cohesive cities wherein urban planning and design measures can be used to strengthen the relationship between space and social integration, helping to address the challenges the cities face with respect to migration, segregation, and social, economic polarization. It, therefore, is essential to consider what planning and design major at different scales include the city and neighborhood levels can foster social interaction and integration in social networks.

Rearranging the scenery of India is a process of choice. It involves picking appropriately from a range of options, from the traditional to the most innovative and contemporary. It consists in adapting lessons from elsewhere and developing context-specific solutions. It requires continuous feedback and inability to change when things do not work as well as finding the optimal solutions in a cultural context.

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