1. Floor Space Index – What is It?
Floor Space Index (FSI) or Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is defined as the ratio of the total constructed area of the building to the total plot area. This means that the sum total of the entire constructed area is calculated and divided by the total area of the plot. This ratio is called FSI or FAR.
For the purposes of this article, the term FSI will be used in lieu of FAR.
2. Why is FSI Important?
In India, every city, town or urban agglomeration has its development control regulations or building bye-laws. These are rules which place a limit on the total quantity of construction that can be raised on a plot of land. For example, if the development control rules limit the FSI to 2.00, this means that for a plot having area of 1000 square meters, a maximum of 2000 square meters of the constructed area can be put up.
3. What areas are to be reckoned while calculating the FSI?
Unless the law excludes certain areas of the building structure from being calculated in the FSI, the entire constructed area of the building, saleable as well as non-saleable, must be reckoned while calculating the total ‘Floor Space Index’ consumed in the building.
4. Can certain areas be excluded from FSI Consumption?
Yes. The development control regulations of major cities in India do permit certain specific areas of the building to be excluded from the computation of FSI. For example, DC Regulation 35 of Mumbai’s Development Control Regulations of 1991 (now DC Regulation 2034) permits non-saleable areas such as lift lobby, staircase, basement, podium and stilt areas to be excluded from the computation of FSI.
By excluding certain areas from the computation of FSI, the law incentivizes builders to provide additional areas that would enhance the infrastructure available in the building. It also makes buildings safer and developers can provide additional elevators and wider staircases that will facilitate easy evacuation in a state of emergency. Further builders are able to provide ample parking spaces without worrying about any loss of area from their sale component. By excluding non-saleable areas from FSI, DC 35 of Mumbai’s DC Regulations serves to enhance the infrastructure and services available to residents of high-rise apartments.
5. What are the consequences for a Building constructed in violation of FSI Norms?
If a building is constructed in violation of FSI norms, then both the structure and the developer will be liable to face statutory and criminal action. Under statutory action, a demolition notice can be issued against the structure. Under criminal action, the local authority (municipal corporation or development authority) can file a criminal case against the builder who has raised such illegal construction. Both these legal remedies portend serious consequences for those involved in violating the law.
6. Can a violation of FSI Norms in a Building be condoned or regularised?
No. Save in exceptional circumstances, a building constructed in violation of FSI norms cannot be regularised. Demolition is the only option if the structure is declared illegal. Such demolition may either be complete or partial. This is because in several court cases, the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court of India have held that while minor stipulations of the Development Control Regulations can be relaxed, FSI violations cannot be regularised and the building will have to face demolition.