Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology of the RWTH Aachen University

Urban Growth and its effect on Water Supply-Demand in Hyderabad

Hyderabad city is growing day by day with the alarming rate. The twin cities of Hyderabad-Secunderabad (herein referred to as ‘‘Hyderabad’’), is one of the fastest-growing urban agglomerations in India, with an annual population growth rate of more than 5% (UN, 2009). The city population, currently 6.8 million, is expected to exceed 10 million in 2015. At this rate, Hyderabad will rise from its current global rank of 31st to 22nd of the biggest urban agglomerations, overtaking Bangkok, Lima and Hong Kong (UN, 2009).


The change in land use over last 20 years is studied using the LANDSAT satellite images. For this purpose, satellite images of the year 1989, 2000, 2005 and 2010 were used for identification and classification of the urban area into five classes as: Water, High Density Urban Area, Low Density Urban Area, Vegetation (including agriculture) and Fallow Land. Due to defect in SLC (Scan Line Corrector) instrument of Landsat satellites after 2003, there were data gaps in the images of 2005 and 2010. These data gaps were successfully filled with the other images of the year 2004 and 2009 of the same season for this study.

Fig.1a) Land Use Classification result for 1989

Fig.1b) Land Use Classification result for 2000










Fig.1c) Land Use Classification result for 2005

Fig 1d) Land Use Classification result for 2010




Fig. 2  Change in Land Use over last 20 years in Hyderbad

The results shows that, considerable decrease in the area of water through the period due to Non-implementation of the environmental laws and haphazard planning and growth of Hyderabad city, which also have reduced the Musi river and the different lakes in the city area. Also from the results, high population density area shows the trend of fast growth. In case of Low population density area, it was increasing from 1989 to 2005 but in 2010 it has decreased due to its conversion into high population density area. The Vegetation shows the decreasing trend up to 2005 but after that it has increased slightly because of government’s policy of conversion of some areas in new parks. The area under fallow land includes most of the play grounds and open area. The fallow land is also showing the steep decreasing trend until 2005 but after that it is near about stable in the included study area.

The effect of this population growth can be seen on the water supply to Hyderabad. It has grown rapidly over the period 1950–2010 and is projected to increase further with the completion of additional projects by 2030 (Figures 3(a) and (b)). In 1950, when Hyderabad had a population of 1.1 million people, water supply was secured by two nearby reservoirs, providing the city with roughly 3.5 million cubic meters per month (MCM month-1).

Figure 3(a) Hyderabad urban water supply patterns. Water delivery rates from the different water sources for urban water supply in Hyderabad in the period 1950–2030. For the period 1980–2003 more detailed water delivery data were used


Figure 3(b) Hyderabad urban water supply patterns. Relative contribution of the water sources for urban water supply in Hyderabad in the period 1950–2030. Absolute values were converted to percentages of total water deliveries to Hyderabad city. The percentage of each source is called ‘‘contribution to total supply’’, showing its relative importance

In the 1960s, water began to be diverted from sources outside the local catchment area, and those sources now dominate the total urban water balance. In 1991, when the Singur reservoir started operating, water supply doubled in volume, rising to about 18 MCM per month in the late 1990s. In March 2003, Krishna river water from the Nagarjuna Sagar reservoir began to be pumped from a distance of more than 120 km, giving an enormous boost to water supply and already accounting for one-third of water supply in 2004, with 10 MCM per month. This is the first stage of a multi-stage project which will provide Hyderabad with an additional 10 MCM in 2011 and a similar extra water supply in 2021. For 2020, plans exist to launch an ambitious inter-basin transfer project that will take another 25 MCM from the Godavari River. The extent of groundwater withdrawal for urban use is estimated to be 3.3 MCM per month, which has clearly caused drops in the groundwater table. Water supply is governed by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB). Total water losses with treatment and transportation can amount to one-third of net delivery (HMWSSB, 1995).

Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) is trying to conquer this increasing demand of growing urban population in very short period. In some cases they have achieved their target but still there are lot of people who do not have enough water to fulfill their all the water needs.


HMWSSB. 1995. Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board. Sixth Annual Report 1994–1995. Hyderabad.

UN. 2009. World Urbanization Prospects, the 2009 Revision, New York, USA.

Hemant Wakode
PhD Student, Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen. (GERMANY). Email: See all posts from Hemant Wakode
  1. Kristina Schmitz

    If you go to the outskirts of Hyderabad you can not only imagine that all the buildings were not there 20 or 15 years ago, but you can also see how the city grows. So many new buildings, buildings which are not ready yet and many construction sites.
    When you go along these new roads, you can see all these nice parks. It looks really nice but of course it needs huge amoutns of water to keep it nice and green. Especially now in the summer. So there is really a dilemme for urban planning. To have a nice city or to have a moderate water consumption?

  2. Yes, I am agree with you. The city is trying to expand in all possible directions in last 20 years. Most of the Industrial growth is concentrated in the North-Western part of the city. They have focused mostly on the growth of IT Industry. In that process, development and expansion of a Hyderabad Software Technology Park is going on with very fast rate.

  3. very helpful analysis….u could have also added ur option on how this primacy can be controlled and how this ground water can be increased. i am personally interested in methods of community rain water harvesting as it is the challenge for this densely populated cities where we can hardly find the space for recharging points.
    thanks for sharing


    This is apt for me as I am searching for the information on changes in Hyderabad in different periods of time. Thanks for those who have put the information on web.

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