| If everything goes according to plan, India is well on its way to adding another metropolis to its kitty-Greater Hyderabad. However, the task entails much more than merely reshaping the city's contours to create a vast expanse of 725 sq km from the existing 172 sq km. It implies expanding the city by merging 12 municipalities and eight major villages. Once this has been done, Greater Hyderabad may well be the country's largest city surpassing the National Capital Region that is riddled with inter-state jurisdiction problems around Delhi. Moreover, none of the other metros, barring perhaps the national capital, will have the advantage of contiguous large extents of land as Greater Hyderabad. |
The constitution of Greater Hyderabad is intended to ensure better planning and focussed development of the mega city and make it internationally competitive with world-class infrastructure. The city has seen its population increase by about 216 per cent in the past three decades. Slum-dwellers account for 18 per cent of the population in cities while the figure is around 61.27 per cent in the surrounding municipalities. Significantly, population in the existing Hyderabad is growing at 1.9 per cent a year and at 7 per cent in the suburbs. But there are a number of objections to the development of the city even though the Andhra Pradesh High Court had dismissed petitions challenging the Government's plan. The naysayers site a number of problems in the project. "It is difficult to run the city even in its present form. When the Government has failed to provide enough funds for so long, how can it cope up with the demands of a larger metropolis," asks former mayor T. Krishna Reddy. His Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is opposed to the formation of Greater Hyderabad which is surprising as the Chandrababu Naidu regime had also tried to form the city by issuing a notification in April 1999.
No less strident than the TDP is Assaduddin Owaisi of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), who occupies the Hyderabad seat in the Lok Sabha. MIM is an influential local party of Muslims in Hyderabad. Though the party says an area so large will be unviable for the status of a local body, its real worry is that its pocket boroughs in the existing city will no longer remain the same. But Owaisi denies this. "This is not our concern as Muslims who account for 42 per cent of the city will be marginally lesser at 39 per cent of the population in Greater Hyderabad," he says.
However, what has got all politicians worried is the status of Hyderabad in case the state is divided. They fear that the formation of Greater Hyderabad is a precursor to converting the city into a Union territory if the state is split. "There is a bigger conspiracy at work cutting across party lines to deprive
Telangana of Hyderabad when it will be formed," says Bandaru Dattatreya, state BJP president. This is why the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is ready to battle it out legally alongside MIM to file an appeal against the high court's decision in the Supreme Court. The TRS is against Greater Hyderabad-a larger city with higher investments-being declared a Union territory. Though TDP is divided on the issue, it has decided to join MIM and TRS in the exercise.
|LAND: A vast expanse of 725 sq km from the existing 172 sq km needs to be created. It implies expanding the city by merging 12 municipalities and eight major villages. |
WATER: Water needs are expected to go up from the present 230 million gallons to 500 million gallons per day, which will need an additional investment of Rs 7,000 crore.
TRANSPORT: The state has proposed a Rs 8,500 crore Hyderabad Metro Rail Project. For basic infrastructure development, excluding Metro Rail and electricity, about Rs 30,000 crore will be needed in the next 15 years.
One cannot overlook the fact that development in the urban sprawl is fragmented. "String of municipalities and spatial fragmentation with pulls in different directions deterred uniform and organic growth," points out Srinivas Chary Vedala, director of the Centre for Energy, Environment, Urban Governance and Infrastructure Development, Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad. Greater Hyderabad is, therefore, considered necessary to improve civic services and relieve stress on the existing infrastructure. Urban experts caution that this plan has to be developed keeping in mind infrastructural aspects like roads, water supply and drainage. Water needs are expected to go up from the present 230 to 500 million gallons per day-an additional investment of Rs 7,000 crore. The burden of the fund-starved Hyderabad Metropoli-tan Water Supply and Sewerage Board will increase as its area of operation will go up. To improve transportation, the state has proposed a Rs 8,500-crore Hyderabad Metro Rail Project. For basic infrastructure development, excluding Metro Rail and electricity, about Rs 30,000 crore will be needed in the next 15 years.
The biggest challenge that the project faces apart from overcoming political opposition is the absence of a centralised structure to implement it. "The administration has to show greater will to bring multiple agencies with diverse functions-from transportation and public health to solid waste management and water supply-to work under one umbrella in a cohesive and concerted manner," explains Vedala.
But there is a downside to the creation of Greater Hyderabad as well. It will stretch almost all urban services and utilities besides pushing up the costs as well as ensure rapid urbanisation of a massive 550 sq km of semi-urban and rural area. Those staying in these areas may be forced to pay higher taxes and see real estate prices rise, but in the years ahead they will also enjoy the benefits of better-run utilities. But at the moment, there is an opportunity to plan and prepare for the development of the urban sprawl for the next few decades.