Hyderabad: City starved of green cover

As per the figures of the Census 2011, the city has a population of 68.1 lakh and spans over 650 square kilometres.

Hyderabad: Not too long ago, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) had announced that it would construct 50 theme parks in the city. This plan, which would have provided the city with much needed green-space, has not moved beyond the drawing board, confess officials.

In August this year, it was none other than city mayor, Bonthu Rammohan, who said that there were not many major parks, apart from a handful, in the city. Adding insult to injury, he said that they would be developed over the next four months.

While the powers-that-be continue to twiddle their thumbs even in December, the city continues to grapple with the lack of quality green spaces. As per the figures of the Census 2011, the city has a population of 68.1 lakh and spans over 650 square kilometres. However, the figures, according to the GHMC website, show that the city has only 694.4 acres allocated for parks and open spaces, which is just 2.81 square kilometers. This means, on an average, there is only 2.7 square metres of open space per person in the city. As it turns out, the urban and regional development plans formulation and implementation (URDPFI) guidelines say that it is optimal to have at least 10-12 square metres per person. Even the national building code (NBC) prescribes that a person should be given at least three square metres of organised green space.

“It is common knowledge that there is a lack of green spaces in the city. The parks that the GHMC looks to build, or has built, is not proportional to the population of the city. We only have colony parks, which are used for cultural reasons. They are not spaces where anyone can walk in or exercise,” Prof. B. Srinagesh, department of geography, Osmania University, told Deccan Chronicle.

All the criticism notwithstanding officials from the civic body say that apart from the parks, the city has a lot of open spaces. “There are large green spaces available in universities like Osmania or the University of Hyderabad. Not to forget the open parcels of land in the areas controlled by the armed forces,” said the official. Even a study titled Evaluating the Urban Green Spaces: Benefits and Issues says: ‘As per the planning standards, 0.2 Ha/1000 population of land is required for green, open recreational spaces, which many cities have failed to maintain. The lack of these spaces is not due to lack of land as there are plenty of vacant lands. It is mainly because of the apathy and carelessness of government authorities that they are not used for recreational purposes.’

Incidentally, researchers from Janaagraha rue that barring a few developed countries, there is next-to-negligible open space in urban agglomerations like Hyderabad.

“We must look at the accessibility of open spaces, rather than just look at availability. Even if there are five square metres of space and 10 people can use it, it would mean space well-utilised,” Vivek, a researcher from Janaagraha said. However, researchers note that universities and military installations are not accessible to the common person.

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