By Kishor Patel
Surat, 24 August 2020
Real estate stakeholders have hailed Gujarat Government’s decision to allow construction industry to build residential towers over 100 metres high in five cities.
The new policy decision allows builders to go as high they wish, provided a road at least 30 metres wide adjoins the plot and they have an airport no-objection certificate.
Speaking to The National Dawn, Kamdhenu Developers’ Managing Partner Bharat Ghelani Director said, “This decision will ease congestion in cities like Ahmedabad and Surat. Tall residential and commercial buildings add to the aesthetics of a city’s skyline.”
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani recently announced the decision that allows Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara to build 100 metres or more towers.
The Urban Development and Urban Housing Department issued the notification as part of the Comprehensive General Development Control Regulations (CGDCR)-2017.The department has invited suggestions and objections from citizens within 60 days.
The Department’s Deputy Secretary and Officer on Special Duty Prakash Datta said, “The government does not intend to change the entire skyline in these cities. It primary intent is to facilitate the development of some iconic buildings in these cities. We are sure this move will help attract FDI in real-estate.”
Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India Managing Director Jaxay Shah believes this move “pending for the last eight years” will attract foreign investments.
Another reason cited by officials is that urban land is getting scarce and that “horizontal development of cities need more land, which is getting expensive by the day”.
The current height restriction for tall buildings is 45 metres. It was raised to 70 metres or, around 22 to 23 floors, in 2017.
If a builder has a 2,500 square metres plot, the maximum height limit was 150 metres. If the plot is 3,500 sq. m, the developer can build a tower of any height. Skyscrapers can come up in zones that have an FSI (Floor Space Index) more than 1.2. The changes permit a total FSI up to 5.4, but the additional FSI over 1.2 will be chargeable at 50% of the jantri value (ready reckoner rates) of the non-agricultural land.
The government has said tall buildings will help bring down the cost of housing. Some developers do not agree and worry about cost escalation.
Ahmedabad-based construction firm Savvy Infrastructure’s Senior Executive Shah said, “Skyscrapers are usually meant for luxurious residences and commercial structures. Even maintenance costs are high.”
Ahmedabad-based structural engineer Vatsal Patel said the primary costs in constructing a tall building are foundation and labour. “Higher number of floors means more cost of construction. For instance, as the structure rises, windows will need thicker and thicker glass. Again, labour costs increase after every fifth or sixth floor by 5-7%.”
Market demand is crucial. “In most cities, where land rates are very high, skyscrapers are in demand. Other factors like scenic views and pollution play a role,” Patel said.
Others experts are concerned about the proximity of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar to the Cambay fault line in the seismically active region of Kutch. The government does not allow buildings higher than one floor in Kutch because of earthquake concerns.
The CGDCR mandates that proposed tall buildings will have to follow the National Building Code that lays down design guidelines for construction in seismically active zones. A Special Technical Committee with experts in structural engineering and soil mechanics will examine each project proposal.