Mumbai (Bombay), India*

Mumbai (Bombay), population 18 million, is located on India’s central west coast along the Arabian Sea. It currently has three different TDR provisions: Reservation TDR, Heritage TDR and Slum TDR.

“Reservation” is the term used to describe certain land dedications or public improvements called for in the Mombai Development Plan. When landowners provide these reservations, TDRs are created, which can then be transferred and used to allow increased density in suitable receiving areas. The planned reservations total 28.4 million square meters including 7.7 million square meters of roads, 19.1 million square meters of parks, gardens and open space and 1.6 million square meters of floor area in public buildings. The program is also designed to encourage the redirection of development away from the more congested southern tip of the city toward the northern suburbs.

There are two types of sending areas. The City, meaning the historic island city of Bombay, is only a sending area. TDRs created in the City must be transferred north to the suburbs. The suburbs can serve as either sending or receiving areas subject to the following limitations. TDRs created in the suburbs can be transferred either to any site in the same ward where they were generated or to receiving areas in suburbs further to the north.

The concept called floor area ratio in the U.S. is called plot ratio in India. Mumbai’s plot ratio in the City is 1.33:1, meaning that 1.33 square meters of floor area can be built per square meter of lot area. When landowners surrender land in the sending area for roads and parks, they receive TDRs at the rate of 1.33 square meters of floor area for each square meter of land offered. In the suburbs, the landowners receive TDRs representing one square meter of floor area for each square foot of land dedicated for a qualifying improvement. Landowners can also earn TDRs by building qualifying roads and public buildings (although no TDRs are granted for development of parks or gardens.) TDRs representing one square foot of transferable floor area are awarded for each square foot of hospital or school buildings built. Only 0.25 square feet of transferable floor area are awarded for the construction of roads; for example, for every 1,000 square meters of roadway constructed, a developer is able to build an extra 250 square meters of floor area at a receiving area site.

In addition to the Reservation TDR program, started in 1992, Mumbai also has a Slum TDR program initiated in 1995. In the Slum TDR program, 0.25 square feet of TDRs are awarded for qualifying construction; as with road construction under the Reservation TDR Program, for every 1,000 square meters of construction eligible under the Slum TDR Program, a developer is able to build an extra 250 square meters of floor area at a receiving area site.

Mumbai’s third program is Historic TDR. In this program the floor area that can be transferred from a historic site is the maximum floor area allowed under the plot ratio minus the actual size of the landmark structure.

Of the 28.4 million square meters of total planned reservations, TDR has actually created 498,343 square meters of roads, 1,144,285 square meters of open space and 137,427 square meters of floor area in public buildings. That’s a total of 1,780,055 square meters of reservations, or about six percent of the total goal. Most of the TDRs have been generated by the provision of amenities in the suburbs. For example, of the total number of TDRs granted for road improvements to date, seven percent are from the City and 93 percent are from the suburbs.

The Slum TDR program, adopted in 1995, began generating transfers in 1997. In 2000, 2001 and 2002, it produced roughly 250,000 square meters of bonus floor area per year on receiving sites. This jumped to 600,000 square meters transferred in 2003.

Since 1993, the Reservation TDR program has generated anywhere from 50,000 square meters to 300,000 square meters per year of public improvements. This has saved the government a substantial amount in terms of acquisition and construction costs. Nevertheless, some observers believe that the program is not living up to expectations. Jayant Gehi, an urban planner from Mumbai, believes that the TDR allocation does not adequately compensate developers for the construction costs of the amenities. For example, rather than surrender road right of way and build roads in order to obtain TDRs, landowners often forgo the TDR option and the planned roads are not built. He believes this problem is exacerbated by the fact that the sending area is in south Mumbai where land values are high while the receiving areas are to the north, where land values are lower.

Although the Mumbai TDR programs may not be meeting everybody’s hopes, the transfer activity seems impressive, particularly in the suburbs. As Mr. Gehi has noted, higher land values may be limiting the use of TDR in the City. However, this could be fixed by increasing the transferable floor area generated in return for dedicating land and making public improvements in the City.

* This profile is based entirely on “TDR Policy & Its Implications in Mumbai (Bombay)” by Jayant Gehi