Hyderabad, India: Green Garland to the State of Telangana

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City: Hyderabad
Country: India
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* This case study was written by the city and has not been edited by AIPH

Initiative: Green Garland to the State of Telangana

Hyderabad is Mega city (10 million inhabitants) and one of the fastest growing metropolises in India, which is expected to be home to about 19 million residents by 2041. City is managed by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in the core area comprising 650 sq. km. and by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) beyond GHMC limits with an area 7257 Km2. Hyderabad is the only city from India to have been recognized with Tree Cities of the World for the year 2020 for its commitment to growing and maintaining Urban Forests.

Hyderabad, famous for lakes, has around 1,350 lakes occupying an area of 2,000 ha. in the core area and around 3000 lakes in the HMDA area with total area of more than 32,250 ha. Lake Hussain Sagar, Hyderabad, India, the World’s largest heart shaped lake was officially declared as the “Heart of the World” by United Nations World Tourism Organization on 27th September 2012 on World Tourism Day 2012.

Telangana Ku Haritha Haram (TKHH), meaning ‘Green necklace to the State of Telangana’ is a flagship program which is a large-scale tree-planting program implemented by the Government of Telangana since 2015-16. The program envisages increasing the tree cover of the State from present 24% to 33% of the total geographical area of the State.
In Hyderabad city massive plantations were taken up under various components like Avenue Plantation, Multi-layered Avenue plantations, Miyawaki plantations, Barren Hill Afforestation, Institutional plantations, Homestead plantations, Tank foreshore, Canal Bank, Riverbank and Rivulets, industrial parks. Creation of Smrithi vanams, Greenery under flyovers, vertical gardens, Planting in Urban Residential Colonies involving all stakeholders.

Few Details:

  • Roadside Multi Layered Avenue plantations – length 881.5 Km, 37,27,805 No’s.
  • Greenery on Road Central Median – length 406.50 Km, 47,03,241 No’s.
  • Tank bund plantation No. of. Lakes – 24, No. of. Plants 32,00,000 No’s.
  • Urban Parks 1087 No’s.
  • Urban Forest area Block Plantations 5928.38Ha, No. of. Plants 30,00,000No’s.
  • Colony/Street Plantations – 56,25,857 No’s.
  • Institutional Plantations – No. of. Plants 155,00,000No’s.
  • Vertical Garden – 12 No’s.
  • Block Plantations – 250Ha along ORR
  • Landscape Gardens – 12.5 Ha.
  • Rain Garden – 7 No’s & No. of plants 7,00,000 No’s.

Due to intensive plantations raised in Hyderabad city over last (6) years, the environment improved a lot. Annual cumulative rainfall (mm) from 01/06/2021 to 11/03/2022 Actual – 6958.7; Normal – 5255.6; Deviation (%) – 232 of Hyderabad City limits (HMDA area) is far higher than that of the State Cumulative Rainfall (mm) Actual – 1138.5; Normal – 861.2; Deviation (%) – 32. Improvements are seen in ground water level and abatement of Air, Noise pollution.

The resident associations of the city have raised plantations at their homesteads & colonies adopting 760 colony parks and their maintenance. Remarkable increase in the green cover noticed as per FSI report by 48.66 Sq. Kms. i.e., from 33.15 Sq. Kms in 2011 to 81.81 Sq. Kms in 2021. Importantly, the aim is to inculcate the right attitude towards trees and green environment in the younger generation.

Addressing the urban challenge

Breadth of the issue – How are the problem(s) that are being tackled by your initiative affecting citizens/local businesses or a significant component of the local wildlife?

TKHH advocates raising of plantations in all sectors and vacant lands of Hyderabad city. All Public roadside areas planted with Multi-Layer Avenue plantation which gives shades, aesthetic appeal to the commuters while protecting the environment by controlling air and pollution and the people are protected from ill-health conditions. 111 Urban open/lung spaces are developed with vegetation. People of all corners of the city utilize them to rejuvenate themselves from the stress induced by hustle and bustle city life. All colonies/ Streets are planted with avenue and ornamental plants (No’s 56,25,857).

Seedlings are raised in more than 600 nurseries in core city area (additional matching number of nurseries in outskirts of the city) and made available to the public. The Urban lung spaces, Greenery developed in tank bunds are cherished as recreation areas and environmental education centres.

The public preference to reside near to Urban Lung spaces has created new business opportunities. The Sanjeevaiah Park, NTR Gardens, Hussain Sagar Tank bund, Melkote Park, Vanasthalipuram Park, etc., are business centres for eateries, recreation activities, etc.

Due to taking up massive plantations in colony open spaces by demarcating the open space and constructions of wall around the open space has given a permanent solution by protecting the land against illegal encroachments, dumping while adding to green cover. 976 landscape parks and 406 tree parks in core city area were protected in this manner.

Depth of the issue – How seriously are the problems being tackled by your initiative impacting the life of the citizens/businesses/wildlife concerned?

Outer Ring Road (ORR) is a 158 Km length 8-lane access-controlled expressway having 150 Metres Right of Way with service roads on both sides developed around Hyderabad city. The Central median of ORR with 5 metre width across the entire 158 km stretch is raised with three layered plantations.

Central row –Avenue plantation of topiary nature.
Two Hedge rows are planted with dense flowering shrubs maintained at 2-3 feet height.
Three rows’ plantations are raised on right and left side of main carriage way.

1st Row- Flowering shrubs
2nd Row- Flowering median height plants
3rd Row- Flowering and top canopy plants
All open areas of the interchanges, future utility corridors, road islands, Service roads, VUPs are planted.

The commuters have a pleasant feeling with multi-coloured flowering plants, aesthetic appeal, and peaceful environs of the ORR. Dense plantation is protecting local environment from vehicular pollution.

All urban lung spaces are useful as Morning and evening walkways, weekend recreation space, Environmental education centres for children, oxygenation and purification of urban air in the colonies, significant mitigation of urban heat island phenomenon, increase in Biodiversity in colonies by creating semi natural habitats, improvement in quality of environment and living, positive impact on public health and resilience. Tank bunds like Hussinsagar which is located in the middle of the city became a centre of recreational excellence, Eco-tourism spots and hub for weekend activities like Sunday-Funday programme, Happy Street etc.

The power of plants and natural ecosystems to deliver benefits

How is the initiative shaped by scientific evidence of the potential for plants and natural ecosystems to deliver benefits?

Hyderabad city is conglomeration of 10 million people. Increased urbanization and industrialization might have negative impact on ecosystems and environment especially people and lakes. As per 2018 data, there are over 5.3 million vehicles operating in the city, deaths resulting from atmosphere particulars matter are estimated at 1700 to 3000 each year. The vegetation status in 2011-2012 is about 11% of the area. Hence it has been decided to improve green cover to improve climate of Hyderabad city. Therefore, TKHH programme is implemented intensively potential areas for development of vegetation being roadsides, open areas, central median on roads, Urban open spaces, tank bunds, open areas in institutions, street /colony open lands etc.

The city is committed to creation of as much bio-aesthetic environment by developing green, beautiful & hygienic atmosphere for the citizens of twin cities as feasible. Through these healthy ecosystems, we wish to clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, and recycle nutrients with a better living environment in the city. The initiative of massive afforestation in the city by way of very dense plantations, street plantations and restoration of lakes has improved the green cover in the city. Further there is a visible impact on city biodiversity. The increase in green cover by 147% as per FSI report-2021, decreased pollution levels when compared to other mega cities of the country certainly are scientific evidence that the initiatives taken up are very beneficial and vital in amelioration of the environment in Hyderabad city.

How has the city exploited the potential of plants and associated ecosystems to deliver more than one benefit?

Multi-layer Avenue plantations led to improvement of air quality, ornamental plants gave aesthetic look and provided the awe factor to the commuters with pleasant surroundings.
111 urban lung spaces and 24 lake bunds developed with avenue and shrub plantations give shade and good quality air while the herbs provide medicinal value. They became re-creation centres and environment education centres.

Even smallest layout open spaces were utilized for dense plantations converting into Tree Parks with walking tracks, seating areas and fitness areas at some locations under prestigious Pattana Pragathi Programme on the concept of Developing Pattana Prakruthi vanams (Urban Nature Parks). About 406 such Tree parks were developed since last 2 years.

The plantations raised help conserving rainwater, providing shelter, food for birds, bees, butterflies, insects and animals while providing sense of wellbeing and peace in immediate surroundings creating microclimate in the colonies and institutions.

Central Median plantations (190 Kms), Multi-Layer Avenue Plantations (85 Kms) where there were wider margins available along the roads and also single row street plantations were taken up along the roads in the core city area which help in mitigation of the effects of pollution.

The spaces under 29 Flyovers were taken up with greenery and beautification which helped in preventing encroachments, unlicensed parking, and waste dumping. About 100 Vertical Gardens were developed on the pillars of flyovers which have a variety of aesthetic, economical, physiological and environmental benefits. Real Estate and property prices soared in the areas surrounding green pockets.

Innovative and Collaborative Solution

How does the initiative show evidence of feasibility, including on-going financial and logistical support?

Development of Greenery is a part of Development. 10% of budgets of the organizations shall be incurred on Greenery development and maintenance. Urban Forestry wings are created in all local bodies and appointed personnel at different cadres and provided logistic support. The duty of these personnel are development and maintenance of city greenery.

In GHMC, a separate Urban Biodiversity Wing is functioning to take up all greening activities in Hyderabad City including protection of existing greens, development of parks and plantations and other beautification works.  The Officers having knowledge in taking up the works are provided from Forest Department and Horticulture Department of the State on deputation by the State Government.

As per the instructions of the State Government, the Corporation has earmarked 10% of the total annual budget as Green Budget for development of Parks, plantations and greenery under all components by allotting Rs.384.80 Crores for the year 2021-22.

57 theme parks are being developed with a financial outlay of Rs. 134.23 Crores by different themes in the core city area.

In what ways is the initiative innovative?

Multi-Layer Avenue Plantation is a new concept by State which is implemented along 45 locations in 100 Kms stretch in the core city area main roads with wider margins creating a continuous green belt with ascending canopy levels from roadside towards the habitation enhancing aesthetics to the commuters and reducing pollution. 1st Row Flowering shrubs, 2nd row flowering medium height plants, 3rd row Top canopy shade plants. Institutional open area, Urban vacant lands are planted with high density plantations (10000 plants per hectare).

Telangana Municipal Act – “constitute green cell and earmark 10% of funds in the budget and take up plantation and cause development of nurseries and species in the Municipality … and take up plantation … and ensure survival of 85% of such plantations.” This is a role model for India and for others to emulate.

The State will deduct one-time annual contribution from the salaries of public representatives and employees working for State government from April 2022-23 for the first-of-its-kind Telangana Green Fund created to fund the green movement in the State. This is innovative financing model for other States/ Nations to follow.

Dense plantations to have 0.75 to 1.00 canopy cover. A plantation method akin to Miyawaki method is employed and results are encouraging in 45 locations with 9.55 lakh plants during the year 2020. 600 ward level nurseries are established to cater the need of the saplings to the residents. Urban Forest Parks with walking and cycling tracks, Yoga area help to relax and rejuvenate

How is the initiative supported by collaborative working across disciplines and sectors?

TKHH advocates participation of all stake holders – public and private sector to raise plantations in open spaces in their premises.

Home stead plantations:-   Each house hold family to plant at least 6 flowering and fruit yield plants.
The Telangana State has created “Green Fund” for establishment of Telangana Haritha Nidhi (Telangana Green Fund) with contributions from the salaries of employees working for State and Public Representatives from the financial year 2022-23.

The plantation in the city is being carried out in coordination and support from all the sectors. All the Government employees, Institutional managements and Colony Welfare Associations are involved in the drive.

The planners are designing the roads and other infrastructure by incorporating earmarked areas for greenery development, retaining the existing trees and other greenery to maximum possible extent while designing new projects, made provision of 15% of the area under green cover while sanctioning new layouts and also encouraging the green building concept in the city by corporates in real estate and other industrial sectors.  The green roof concepts are also being embedded in the Urban Landscape to mitigate thermal contrasts and lend a pleasing appearance to urban landscape.

A total of 976 Parks is developed in core city area which includes 919 Colony parks. Out of these, the actual stakeholders who are involved in greening their colonies came forward to adopt these lungs spaces. As a result, 760 Parks were taken up for maintenance by respective colony welfare associations.

How does the initiative demonstrate evidence of community support?          

The programme of TKHH advocates participation of people of all sectors in Greenery development. The Government has made development of Greenery mandatory for all departments and issued Government orders accordingly.

The local residential communities are actively involved in all planting activities.  The plants required for their homestead planting are supplied by the Corporation at free of cost.  The Colony Welfare Associations also undertook to maintain 760 Colony parks.  Further, they are also involved in in-situ composting in the parks. Open gyms have been provided in 74 locations in these parks for physical fitness activity. 18 Panchatatva parks were developed on acupressure & therapeutic concept.

The Corporates, Business organizations and institutions are also actively involved in taking up plantations in the open spaces available under their control.  Further, many organizations are involved in providing funds / taking up greenery works under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Funds.  Some organizations and NGOs are also taking up active participation by providing tree guards for the plants and adopting some areas for taking up greenery works.

Implementation, Impact and Replicability

How does the initiative demonstrate evidence of a track record of success against pursued objectives?          
  • 158km of Outer Ring Road of Hyderabad is Green Garland to the city of Hyderabad and Green Corridor.
  • 881.5 Kms Avenue plantations along National Highways and Regional Roads are developed as green belts.
  • (111) Urban Lung Spaces in Hyderabad are being used by Public for recreation and environmental education.
  • Street / colony plantations (56.25,857 Nos.) are green walls in the city and maintains environment for sustenance of healthy life of public.
  • Vertical gardens raised in the city are acting as Carbon sinks.
  • Rain Gardens – raised in the city are not only harvesting the rain water, but also act as Pollutions sinks.

Since 2016 to 2021, under this programme, 620 Lakh plants were planted in the core city area which also includes distribution of homestead plants to people, Institutions for planting.  Hyderabad is the only city from India to have been recognized as a Tree city of the World for the year 2020 by the Arbor Day Foundation and FAO for its commitments to growing and maintaining Urban Forests.

The Forest Survey of India in its Indian State of Forest Report (ISFR) released for the year 2021 stated that the Forest Cover in Hyderabad has increased by a massive 147% since 2011 and the city stands 1st in terms of maximum increase compared to other mega cities in the Country.  The city saw its greenery increased by 48.66 Sq. Kms. i.e., from 33.15 Sq. Kms in 2011 to 81.81 Sq. Kms in 2021.

How has the initiative had a ripple effect beyond the scope of the initiative itself, thereby demonstrating a change in the city’s and/or its partners’ way of working with plants?

The plantations raised in Hyderabad City became a model plantations and environmental education centres. The Forest Development of Telangana sends all its officers to field visits to the plantations raised in Hyderabad city to implement same model in the state as a whole.

Thematic gardens like Medicinal Garden, Butterfly Garden, Rose Gardens raised in the Sanjeevaiah park have become a centre of environmental education for the people of Hyderabad and surrounding areas. Public, especially school children are visiting and learning the concepts and propagation methods.

The Greenery developed along the ORR is seen and appreciated by all categories of public and motivating them to take up the idea of raising plantation in their estates.

The urban greens make an alliance with nature to provide Hydrological services to humans and the landscape. It can be observed that the people drive slower on the road with trees than without.
Under this project, 600 nurseries are set up in the core city to cater the plants needs of the local residents and deliver them at their doorstep at free of cost. This has created awareness among the people of all age groups and made them incline towards planting at their homesteads, backyards, and colonies roads etc., During last 3 years, 3.9 crores seedlings are planted and 1.05 crore seedlings are distributed in the core city.

The public who were hitherto not shown interest about the plants are able to speak about the species, plant varieties and their benefits.

How have other cities expressed interest in the initiative, or what potential does it have to interest other cities and be customised to their own circumstances?

The greenery developed in Hyderabad city has become a benchmark for other cities. Officials from Varanasi Town, Uttar Pradesh state – the constituency of The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India visited Hyderabad on 02.12.2021.  Studied the greenery developed in Hyderabad city including multi-pronged model. The Principal Conservator of Forests (Greenery Chief) of different states of India have visited on 26.02.2022. The plantation raised and maintained on ORR Hyderabad city are seen and appreciated.

TKHH is the largest afforestation program aiming at 230 crore plantation through plantation & rejuvenation, which is the 3rd largest program in the world after Brazil and China. Telangana State and Hyderabad City have become a role model for other cities to adopt innovative methods of tree plantations such as Yadadri National Forest Model, Mutli Layer Avenue Plantations. Development of Urban Forest Parks is a new concept taken up by the Hyderabad City with an aim to bring the nature in close proximity to public so that they benefit from the nature and appreciate it by experiencing. The development of tree parks with walking tracks and seating areas is certainly the effort of the city to truly bring nature into the heart of the city – sprawling urban jungles.

Hyderabad ranked the best city to live in India in the Mercer’s Quality of Living (India) Rankings – 2019 in the quality of living ranking announced globally. The Mercer in its 21st edition of the report has ranked 231 cities across the world with seven from India.

Sustainability and Resilience

What efforts have been made to reduce the carbon footprint of the initiative?

The HMDA has raised nursery seedlings and plantations in Hyderabad to reduce carbon footprint. The details are as follows:

Sl.No. Year No. of nursery seedlings raised No. of seedlings planted No. of seedlings distributed
2015-16 300.16 4.20 21.80
2016-17 175.36 30.20 145.00
2017-18 206.00 43.20 52.20
2018-19 200.00 10.09 77.54
2019-20 404.00 12.83 76.19
2020-21 350.0 233.89 99.95
2021-22 450.0 152.08 113.96

Under the initiative of the Haritha Haram, 24.63 lakhs trees were planted exclusively in GHMC area by the Corporation from 2016 to 2021. These trees start absorbing carbon dioxide as they start growing.  Further, the green waste arrived from gardening and pruning is properly composted to reduce carbon footprint. The carbon emissions and the pollution levels are minimized by greenery taken up under various components.

How have the anticipated impacts of climate change been considered?

Hyderabad City is one of the mega cities in India. Urbanization, Industrialization and over population led to increased stress on natural environs and green infrastructure. Accordingly, greenery has been developed to balance the environment.

Roadside Avenue plantations are raised in a length of 881.5 km with 37,27,805 seedlings. The seedlings selected are hardy type which resist harsh environment of air pollution, Azadirachta indica, Ficus religiosa, Ficus benghalensis, Tabubea rosea, Spathodea campanulata, and Tecoma argentea etc. are planted.

The Urban lung spaces are planted with top canopy tree species, ornamental and medium height flowering plants and flowering shrubs. All species selected are suitable to be raised in existing soil condition and useful for public visiting the area. In colony / street plantations, the species of Avenue, flowering and medicinal plants are planted. Mahogany, Azadirachta Indica, Pongamia pinnata, Night jasmine etc.

In this programme trees were planted to maximum extent.  Care has been taken to include maximum number of native species than exotics.  Broadleaved and native varieties like Azadirachta Indica, Ficus varieties, Terminalia varieties etc., have been included in the plantation programme to maintain the diversity in plant species which are suitable to the area and helping creation of microclimate.

What processes does the initiative include for it to be considerate in its use of soils and other natural resources?

Pitting, planting, use of farmyard manure, watering, application of pesticides and protection are important activities of plantations. Nurseries and greenery lawns-maintained need regular watering. (20) million litres per day recycled water of Urban Discharge are used in nurseries, Plantations raised in Sanjeevaiah park, NTR Gardens, Osmania University Urban lung species
About 500 tonnes of Organic manure (Compost) developed from Urban Solid waste is used for Nurseries and Plantations as a manure.The plantations are taken up in the mother soils without using any imported soils.   The enrichment of existing soil profile is done through adding the farmyard manure and organic compost.  Watering is also done through water tankers by obtaining recycled water from Sewage treatment plants managed by Government of Telangana.

Monitoring, Maintenance, and Management

How has the initiative been designed and implemented so that long-term needs for management and maintenance are reduced and can be met?

The tall trees selected for Avenue plantations, block plantations, street plantations, tank bund plantation need initial maintenance for five years. Subsequently, they survive on rain or ground water. The ornamental shrubs planted in Urban lung species need regular maintenance.  These sites are made self-sustainable for maintenance by collecting service charge. Small urban parks sites are maintained by local urban bodies.

The programme is designed in such a way that maximum development of parks, tree parks, avenue plantations etc., were taken up in areas where there is no development activity, and the greenery is retained as such.   The trees and species were included in such way that they require very less maintenance. Only the improvement activities such as pruning and other culture operations are required.

What protocols are in place to facilitate monitoring of results?

Forest Survey of India (FSI) has been monitoring India’s forest and tree resources through periodic assessments and publishes biennial “India State of Forest Report”.

As per 2021 report:

Description Ground area in sqkm Forest area in sqkm %
Hyderabad City 634.18 81.81 12.90
Hyderabad Metropolitan area 6622.82 1634.49 24.68
Total Area 7257.00 1716.30 23.65

The Municipal Act Sec. 24 (7) states that “ln all such cases where the survival is less than 85% and or there is no or lackadaisical involvement of the ward member or the special officer resulting in poor survival of plants, the ward member shall be disqualified and removed and likewise, the Special Officer shall be removed from service by the District collector for his or her failure to ensure 85% survival of plantations”

Forest Department is the nodal agency for monitoring of Greenery raised. They conduct monthly reviews, field visits by Senior Officers and submit report to Government periodically.
In the core city area, for monitoring the results of the activities taken up, 150 Ward Level teams and Special officers are formed to inspect the areas and monitor the watering and other activities required for survival of the plants.

Every Friday is declared as Green Friday on which all the officers will inspect the parks and the Greenery areas.

All the plantation areas, Parks and Nurseries have been geo tagged and photographed and uploaded in TGFIMS website (https://fmis.telangana.gov.in/) for regular monitoring of the sites and survival of the plants.

How has the initiative been enhanced in response to monitoring of results?

The plantations raised are different types – Urban Lung spaces, Road medians, Road Avenues, Open land block plantations, Tank bunds greenery etc. Some are herbs, shrubs, medium trees and top canopy trees having to perform in different climatic situations. Climatically not performing plant species, and species not adopted to Urban environment need to be changed to improve performance of plantations. The Road median plants shall be ornamental in nature and should sustain harsh air pollution. The species suitable are retained and not adopted species are changed to enhance the air quality of Roads and improve the vegetation. The plantation of urban lung spaces is Environmental education in nature and also provide equality environment. The Sanjeevaiah Park Urban Lung space having area of 100 Acres and having the reputation of Top Canopy trees, medium trees and shrubs & herbs. Thematic plantations like Rose Garden, Rock Garden etc. are also developed.

The initiative of plantations is subject to enhancements in monitoring of results, based on the success and survival percentages and availability of the areas, the targets for every year are fixed.  Even within the components such as Open Space Plantations, Multi Row Avenue Plantations, Avenue Plantations and distribution of plants there is flexibility in fixing the targets ever year.


Year Target Plantation Distribution Total
2015-16 12,672 0 12,672
2016-17 8,100,000 442,763 8,048,709 8,491,472
2017-18 10,000,000 448,308 7,243,004 7,691,312
2018-19 4,000,000 458,089 3,855,152 4,313,241
2019-20 10,000,000 932,482 6,272,460 7,204,942
2020-21 25,000,000 21,473,702 517,990 21,991,692
2021-22 12,000,000 8,654,544 3,731,431 12,385,975
Sub Total 69,100,000 32,422,560 29,668,746 62,091,306