Most of the entries in this blog focus on the interaction between urbanization and water resources. But in Hyderabad it’s not only the water that is directly affected by the uncontrolled urban sprawl but also one of its characteristic features: the beautiful rock formations in and around the city.
The so called Hyderabad granitic region forms an important part of the Southern Indian Shield. The area around the city is covered by unclassified granites and granite gneisses of Achaean age. Therefore the landscape in and around Hyderabad nowadays is marked by a unique and impressive landscape: ancient and bizarre rock formations which got their present form after millions of years of being exposed to the elements. Geologists date the rocks back to 2.5 billion years. Apart from their natural beauty the structures serve as biotopes for flora and fauna and support the percolation/recharge of groundwater.
But due to Hyderabad’s fast growth the rocks are more and more under threat. With the expansion of the urban agglomeration the rocks at the city’s fringe have to make way for building space, in the central city they have already mostly disappeared. Furthermore the hard rocks are often used as building material so as Hyderabad continues to spread, more and more of these geological formations disappear.
In order to protect the geological formations of Hyderabad they have been declared as conservation and heritage precincts by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) and in cooperation with the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department (APTD) rock gardens are developed in the city to promote them as tourist attractions. But even if the rocks are listed as heritage precincts by the HMDA’s Heritage Conservation Committee they often are not safe from being demolished to make way for roads, buildings and other constructions. A local NGO, the Society to Save Rocks, has been eager to show the government and the citizens the value of this unique landscape since 1992. It is their goal to demonstrate to landowners, developers and government officials how the boulders can be preserved in houses, gardens, colonies and park areas.
Like many cities in India, also Hyderabad has only a very low number of open green spaces. In the area of the former Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH) it is estimated to be only 0.50 m² per capita and the encroachment of open spaces and parks for buildings is worsening the situation. The preservation of Hyderabad’s rocks could not only protect this beautiful natural heritage but also contribute to the extension of much needed recreational spaces in this loud and bustling city.