Identifying Urban Environmental Issues for a Planning Process

The citizens of Hyderabad (India) have been faced with a number of environmental problems which are not fully addressed by the master planning process. Thus, a number of options exist to improve urban development through application of EPM.

Urban Development and the Environment


Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh state, is a metropolitan region of 4.6 million people in an area of 1548 km.2 The city is located at 550 metres above sea level in the heart of the Deccan plateau in the southern part of India. Hyderabad is located in a rocky, sparsely-wooded area surrounded by hills that contain a large number of lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers.

Economically, Hyderbad has a relatively low 28% workforce participation (comparable to Madras but much lower than the 53% figure for Calcutta). A high percentage of the workforce is employed in the tertiary sector (69%) as compared to 57% for Madras and 23% for Calcutta.

The critical environment-development issues in Hyderabad include:

  • improper solid waste management
  • traffic congestion and air pollution from vehicular sources
  • water pollution and especially contamination of the main recreational lake
  • uncontrolled industrial effluents
  • poor sanitation
  • inadequate water supply.

These problems are compounded by a set of management issues: a) failure to provide land for the urban development strategy; b) lack of co-ordination between industrial and urban development strategies; c) failure to develop an adequate system of land use control and building regulations; and d) lack of political will to enforce master and zoning plans.

Pop. Growth

Experience with Environmental Planning and Management

Hyderabad has little experience with the EPM process, as environmental issues have been implicitly addressed through master planning exercises. The city's original 1980 master plan was recently updated in 1994 and entitled Master Plan 2011. It seeks to spread urbanisation throughout the state so that Hyderabad alone will not absorb the increase in urban population. This would be done through more balanced development, for example, through modernising smaller ports, strengthening the financial situation of local government through an Urban Finance and Infrastructure Development Corporation, and setting up a board for "integrated development of the hinterland" with Hyderabad and smaller towns.

Urban environmental issues were identified within this master plan through a workshop that was held in late 1994. These issues included: a) protection of non-urbanised metropolitan open space such as wetlands, forested areas and market gardens; b) consideration of the implications for environmental infrastructure of densifying versus sprawling patterns of metropolitan growth; c) industrial pollution and industrial location; and d) the option of using public interest litigation on environmental issues to ensure that the plan's principles are fully enforced.

Society for Preservation of Environment and Quality of Life, 703/3 Road No. 12, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad 500 034, India
Tel: +91-40-399 752
author: V.K. Bawa, Secretary

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