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High rise buildings in Mumbai undergo new norms for refuge areas

No Comments Sub Category:Miscellaneous,Real Estate Posted On: Jun 28, 2013

High rise buildings in MumbaiConsidering the crunch for land in Mumbai, realty developments in the city have become as difficult as nailing jelly to a tree. Hence, a number of developers sell the refuge areas in the buildings to the home buyers, eventually giving rise to civic offenses. High rise buildings in Mumbai have been in the spotlight recently, for such illegal selling of the refuge apartments by builders to home buyers.

A refuge area in a building is a place where people take shelter when a fire breaks out in the building.Lately, it has been observed that developers misuse such spaces and transform them into saleable areas. Eventually, such areas are used as an apartment and then sold to buyers at a profitable rate. A recent survey of BMC (Bombay Municipal Corporation) further confirms that there are a host of towers in the city which are manipulated by developers while refuge areas are used for residential purposes incessantly.

Building safety regulations

High rise buildings which do not abide by the regulations imposed by Development Authority of the State Government, contribute towards contempt of law. According to the building safety regulations of BMC, a refuge area at every 7th habitable floor should be constructed for the initial 24 m of a high rise building. The refuge area must be constructed at the floor level, within the building line. For buildings more than 30 m tall, the first refuge area must be provided at the top habitable floor or at 24 m, whichever is higher. To add to it, state government guidelines further corroborate that a refuge area will be limited to 4 per cent of the habitable floor area and will not include any FSI (floor space index)). If the refuge area exceeds 4 per cent, the additional area will be numbered as FSI. The previous norms of BMC sanctioned the entire floor area as refuge, which was often misused by the developers for profit.

Building Height

The stringent rules of BMC state that buildings above 30 meters (nine floors) are categorized as high rise structures. For such buildings, the terrace space will be used as refuge area. For buildings having a height of 70 m (24 floors), refuges can be be provided with a RCC- reinforced cement concrete, FSI free. The mid-landing for each refuge area must have a minimum area of 10 sq mts and width of 3 m. A 70 m tall building should also have a fire check floor, however, the height of such floor should not exceed 1.8 mt, to prevent misuse.


According to market survey reports, BMC has recently sanctioned a refuge area of 550 sq. ft. for a residential tower in Worli Naka. Such sanctioning of refuge area has raised a number of questions against the BMC since an incident of misuse has taken place in recent times. Thakker tower, a 34-storey building at Tardeo road has been reported for refuge misuse by its developers which has raised a number of eyebrows. If reports are to be believed, developers of the tower have used 16th, 24th and 31st floors for commercial profit, which were marked as refuge areas by the BMC.

Refuge area is a building is meant for safety purpose. Using of such space by the developers is an act of offence under Indian Penal Code. Using of such space for more profits also threatens the safety of the residents of high rise buildings significantly.


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