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Whose Privilege? And Whose Privation?: A Tale of Groundwater Depletion in Periurban Hyderabad

An impromptu weekend plan landed me in Wonderla Amusement Park in Hyderabad. My fear of heights made me go only on those rides that seemed slower and lower. These happened to be the water rides, as they were my safest bet. Even if all the safety belts and harnesses of the ride failed, I would just end up falling in water, with all my bone and my skull intact. Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself.  At that point, I never questioned how this park was procuring water for all its rides. Nor did I consider the possibility of water being extracted and sold to the park, depriving someone somewhere of their access to groundwater.

Research for the project, ‘Ensuring Water Security in Hyderabad Municipal Area: A Study of Hydrological Settings and Informal Institutional Dynamics’ ( ), landed me in Adibatla, one of our study villages lying on the south-eastern side of Hyderabad. This village is fairly peri-urban in terms of its characteristics, with the Outer Ring Road running along its boundary. Around 25,000 acres of land in this village had been acquired for two SEZs (Special Economic Zones)- Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Advanced Systems Limited. My colleague had also informed me of some amusement park that had come up near the village recently. While taking a transect walk around the village, I spotted it, and to my surprise it was the same one I had visited. Enormous and colourful rides, reaching high up, enhancing an otherwise dull view of the skyline.

Adibatla is the village from where this park buys its water. Tanker owners have been supplying water in gallons to the park, especially during the weekend when the park faces its most crowded days owing to schools, college and offices being shut. The source of all this water is groundwater. Adibatla has suffered considerable groundwater depletion due to the presence of the Tata SEZs in it.


On the south-western side of the city lies Hitech city, the IT Hub of Hyderabad. It not just has most of Hyderabad’s corporate offices, but also residential areas for people who work there. This area also has Inorbit Mall, one of the biggest in Hyderabad. Apart from these there are many entertainment and recreation hot-spots for the youth such as cafes, pubs, restaurants, gaming arenas and theatres. These outskirts are not like outskirts, they have everything that the main city has. One of my friend’s working and living that side of town invited me for her housing society’s events. They had games, food and their biggest attraction was the artificial ‘rain dance’.  This artificial rain dance went on for a longer time than what actual rain lasts in Hyderabad. This time, I did actually wonder about the source of all this water. In a few weeks, I’d found my answer.


Not far from here lies Kokapet, another study village of the project. This is where most of the water of Hitech City and its surrounding areas comes from. Tankers of water move from Kokapet to many commercial and residential areas, even the one I was invited to. To sustain these diverse activities, groundwater is being extracted rampantly and transported from this village. The village on the other hand is bearing the harsh consequences of a falling water table. Borewells are drying up quickly. Even the villagers have to buy water through tankers to sustain their daily activities.

Their only lake has been dry for months.

And the rain they receive isn’t worth dancing.

By Anshika JohnSamir BattacharyaSumit Vij, Poulomi Banerjee, Sai Kiran

Sangeeta M
September 21st, 2016 at 7:21 am

Very well written and so true. We have become insensitive to the needs of people who cannot even afford water


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