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Disappearing Greens in the Peri-urban Hyderabad

Kokapet, one of the study villages for the project “Ensuring Water Security in Metropolitan Hyderabad” (, was the first village that I visited for field work. Even though we refer to them as ‘villages’, there was very less that I found village-like here. It’s a truly peri-urban site, with characteristics of a space transitioning from rural to urban. Agriculture is almost absent.

During that field visit, we spotted a few plots of land where agriculture was still being practiced. We decided to go and talk to the agricultural laboureres. Working under the scorching sun, a man and his wife reluctantly answered our questions. When asked about how they were sustaining this practice, the husband said, “There are no rains and the produce is less. Agriculture is a tough job, it requires us to be in the field all day and I cannot afford to pay another person to work. We have no transport to go sell our produce in the city. We do not even have the time. Vegetable vendors come in an auto, buy our produce and sell it in the city. He pays us Rs.100 per sack of leafy vegetables, and each sack has around 150-200 bundles of leaves”. That comes up to half a rupee for a bundle of leafy vegetables.  This same crop is sold in the city for ten times the price.IMG_0719

Our other study villages, Kokapet and Mallampet were originally agricultural land. With the coming of the Outer Ring Road, these lands were claimed back by the government from the villagers. There were plans to build commercial zones in and around the village. The villagers were compensated with small plots elsewhere in the village but these were not enough for them to practice agriculture on the scale that they used to. Now most of those who were practicing farming were forced to take up jobs as watchmen, drivers and cleaners in the nearby commercial areas such as Hitech City.

For those who continued agriculture, irrigation became a problem. Earlier, the availability of surface water provided a sufficient source for irrigation. But as the lakes dried, farmers started extracting groundwater for agriculture. The cost of farming through groundwater increases the cost due to pumping, but with a subsidy on electricity, the cost is less. Although electricity is subsidized the service is neither reliable nor practical, as the timing is not fixed.With a growing demand for water, some of the farmers started selling water from their bore wells to nearby industrial areas. The groundwater table has further fallen due to the rate of groundwater extraction, making agriculture all the more difficult.

All of the above factors have led to a loss in the potential of agriculture in this village. Those who are still trying to make ends meet through agriculture are in despair, just as the woman in the field who asked, “What will you do for us? Will you get us water? Will you get us rain? When God cannot do anything what will you do? ”

By Anshika JohnSumit VijPoulomi BanerjeeSai Kiran


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