Sunday, July 21, 2013


In India, different states have their own rules that govern the principle of FAR. FAR is Floor Area Ratio. It is the quotient obtained by dividing the multiple aggregate covered area on all floors and 100 by the area of the plot .
To put it more simply FAR= Total Covered Area on all Floors X 100
                                                                Total Plot Area

In Haryana the FAR for Group Housing Projects is 1.75. That means if a Builder has 20 Acres of land he is allowed to build 20 Acres X 4046.86 X 1.75 = 1,41,640.1 Sq Mtrs. In Noida, till recently the FAR was 1.5, therefore a builder with 20 Acres of land in Noida, could only build 20 Acres X 4046.86 X 1.50 = 1,21,405.80 Sq. Mtrs.  The less Coverage on identical Acreage gives consumers more open spaces and less density of Population.

The advantage of fixing this parameter, as opposed to others such as height, width or length, is that Floor Area correlates well with other considerations relevant to the Zoning Regulations of the state or development authority, such as density of population per acre, total number of dwelling units per acre, total services such as EWS flats, STP, and other community and municipal services. The quantity of these services remain constant for a given floor area ratio, regardless of how the area is distributed horizontally and vertically.It however does not mean that this system does not have flaws. In a country like India where the checks and balances are not properly implemented and Laws are loosely followed, it becomes increasingly difficult to protect the violations, as the interpretation of FAR can easily be skewed and hence not easy to measure as easily as the other traditional methods of design.

In Haryana, there is no definition of the Covered area of a floor, in any of the Acts that govern the Building rules/provisions/regulations in the state. Over and above this flaw, which helps builders create their own interpretation of the Covered Area, there are areas that are not covered under FAR or are FAR free. For Example, the basements for parking plus other services like generator room/Air conditioning plant, the Projections such as Canopy, sunshade, Chhajja, Balcony, or an architrave cantilevered from the face of the wall etc, which all areas further create confusion towards easy calculations of the FAR.

The Definition of Covered Area can only be ascertained from the Bureau of Indian Standards (IS 3861: 2002). Category 4.1 states, " Plinth Area shall be the Built up covered areas measured for the categories mentioned in 3.2 and shall include such area as given in 4.1.1 and exclude the areas given in 4.1.2.". For the Purpose of Plinth Area, following shall be included: (4.1.1)
a) Area of the wall at the floor level excluding plinth offsets, if any; when the building consists of columns projecting beyond cladding, the plinth area shall be taken up to the external face of cladding ( in case of corrugated sheet cladding outer edge of corrugation shall be considered);
Note- In case, a common wall is owned jointly by two owners, only half the area of such walls shall be included in the plinth area of one owner.
b) Shafts for sanitary, water supply installations, garbage chute, telecommunication, electrical, fire-fighting, air-conditioning and lifts;
c) stair case;
d) in case of open veranda with parapets:
 1) 100% areas for the portion protected by the projections above, and
 2) 50% area for the portion unprotected from above.
e) 100% area of the balcony protected by projection above and 50% area of the unprotected balcony; and
f) in case of alcove made cantilevering a slab beyond external wall:
 1) 25% of the area for the alcove of height up to 1 meter,
 2) 50% of the area for the alcove of height more than 1 meter and up to 2 meter, and
 3) 100% of the area for the alcove of height more than 2 meters.

4.1.2. The following shall not be included in the plinth area ( see 2.1):
 a) Area of the loft;
 b) Area of architectural band, cornice, etc;
 c) Area of vertical sun breaker or box louver projecting out and other architectural features, for example slab projection for flower pot etc;
 d) open platform;
 e) Terrace;
 f) Open spiral/ service stair case; and
 g) Area of mumty, machine room, towers, turrets, domes projecting above terrace level

Therefore it is clear that BIS is saying one thing while the Acts that govern FAR, have adopted an ambiguous  and contradictory meaning to the calculation of FAR. Which makes it easy for builders to play around and fool the public of these states with varied forms of floor area calculations. If we see flats constructed in Gurgaon in early 2000, we will find within the FAR of 1.75 the area sold to home buyers is less dense and more open, where as today, though the FAR is unchanged the flats have become smaller and the open spaces have shrunk considerably. Where is the area disappearing when the quotient still remains the same. who is eating up all the area which was previously in plenty??? The answers to these growing concerns are to be found at the office of Director General, Town & Country Planning Haryana or with the CEO Noida Authority or any other authority that is regulating and sanctioning the lay-out plans of the Builders.

We have to remember that land is a very precious asset, like so many other natural resources and therefore it is only natural in a country like ours, where systems fail to deliver; that land owners/builders would leave no stone upturned to maximize their return by selling and constructing areas well above the FAR in connivance with the authorities, who are more then willing to turn a blind eye to this growing menace, for a packet that gets delivered to their accounts in chilly hills of Switzerland.

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