The following four major strategies need to be explored and implemented as part of a holistic approach along with other major thrust areas to make Hyderabad future-ready.
1. Compact city surrounded by satellite cities
It is necessary to dis-incentivise urban sprawl but development planning should not be restrictive and should synergise with economic growth. Natural environment should be preserved with the help of efficient urban management systems.
Inclusive development and participation of citizens need to be integrated into mainstream planning systems. The concept of satellite cities/towns needs a tweak. Unlike earlier, when these were planned outside the immediate periphery of the main city, it is better that these new towns be much farther away from Hyderabad but efficiently connected by high-speed road and rail.
These should have major economic base/activities to sustain its population and have an urban ecosystem of its own. It may depend on Hyderabad for only a few higher order facilities. They should be located within the surrounding districts in such a way that the holding district also gets benefitted and should primarily serve the immediate hinterland.
These towns should have large populations with high density as well as basic facilities (which the recent outgrowths of Hyderabad lack) namely large parks, recreational spaces, congregation centres, convention centres, well-planned marriage/function halls, wholesale markets, proper transit plans, among others.
2. Regional Ring Road is pivot
The HMDA area of 7,200 sqkm spreads far and wide into seven districts. Powering the whole of Telangana by utilising resources of Hyderabad and the sheer size of HMDA requires a fresh look in the context of development of Hyderabad vis-a-vis surrounding districts.
The key to this concept is the Regional Ring Road (RRR), which will connect other major towns with Hyderabad and more importantly with these new satellite towns. It will become a major connecting road to the hinterland. (see picture)
3. Development of backward districts
The RRR will enhance the interdependence between the city and the larger region around it. It will connect the backward districts – Sangareddy, Medak, Siddipet, Yadadri and RR District. This will help trade and business to flourish and bring about better cultural connectivity.
Agricultural produce required for daily use in the city would be freshly available at the markets in an hour. Apart from residential and commercial pockets, the RRR will give backward areas access to employment, trade and commerce, modern education, health, sports and entertainment facilities.
Skill development centres can be created in the five backward districts. These centres should have hostels and be equipped to train workers in building construction, readymade cloth tailoring, upholstery, plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, computerised bookkeeping, drafting, among others.
An important sector for development of backward districts is tourism. The growing population of Hyderabad consisting of a large number of youngsters requires different holiday destinations for healthy, entertaining and refreshing outings. It will be useful to link natural scenic spots in the surrounding districts with the help of IRR and ORR and the connecting radial roads. The estimated two crore population of Hyderabad holds a huge potential for these tourism hubs, which will further support cluster development.
A holistic plan for Hyderabad with the new satellite towns and along the RRR will spur the required development pattern. It will also give a tremendous boost to the real estate industry in Telangana.
4. Drinking water for ORR & RRR areas
Drinking water requirement needs to be planned well in advance for the satellites cities, for water is the most important infrastructure requirement. Otherwise, there will be pressure on the system.
As per water department statistics, the water requirement for Hyderabad within five years would be 55 tmc and within 10 years, would increase to 70 tmc. In 15 years, we need to look for another water source. In this context, we must remember that in the last 70 years, we could source only 32 tmc.
This means a water crisis is looming and of a proportion, which can seriously impact the State’s growth story. However, we are expected to get another 30 tmc of drinking water and 15 TMC of industry water from Kaleshwaram. But for this foresight, Hyderabad would surely hit a water crisis. Kaleshwaram water to the city will definitely propel the growth engine of Hyderabad.
The Telangana Developers Association (TDA) has presented a master plan for satellite cities to the government. The cities should be density-controlled to suit the estimated infrastructure. The spillover can be accommodated in the next satellite city, which would be within an hour’s drive and within the urban fabric of Hyderabad metropolis.
We cannot let cities go beyond its estimated infrastructure as it will lead to a serious demand-supply mismatch. There is no doubt that Hyderabad will continue to grow due to its intrinsic strengths, favourable urban ecosystem and pro-active government policies. Hyderabad being a radial city, there are advantages of circular development as opposed to ribbon development.
The connectivity between IRR, ORR and RRR coupled with nodal development of commercial centres and satellite towns near the ORR would decentralise urban development in the Hyderabad Metropolitan region.
This model of Hyderabad would ensure unhindered urbanisation, balanced distribution of higher order activities and development on all sides of the city. This will translate into a boon for backward districts. The TDA suggests that comprehensive efforts be undertaken in this direction. (Concluded)
(The author is president, Telangana Development Association. Maheep Singh Thapar, Urban Planning and Development expert, contributed to the article)