Sustainable Architecture(s) - Humane Cities
Urban watersheds – conflicts due to political ownership of land and commoditisation of water, a study of Hyderabad's lakes
S. Raman
2:15 pm - 3:45 pm


Watershed management has been widely acknowledged as the appropriate approach to deal with waterbodies. Treating land and water as an interconnected whole is essential to this approach. However, political ownership over water and land usually come in conflict with their ecological functions especially in urban areas. Modern Political structure centred on right to individual property  also ties in with the economic aspect of Land as a “factor of production”. In Urban areas, land use is ruled by economics regardless of its ecological functions. Politically, the ownership and development of land is regulated by the state through building codes to ensure the most efficient usage socio-economically. On the other hand, water has also transitioned from being a resource to a commodity- to be provided by the state or bought in the market (Shiva, 2002). Increasing access of households to tap water connections has ensured that in popular culture, tap is now the source of water, not rivers or lakes. This paper seeks to study the lakes of Hyderabad- their historical relationship with the community, the changes that have happened in function and ownership because of current politico-economic pressures and suggest the way forward which can accommodate ecological sensitivity while also re-establishing functional relevance with the city .


Samyukta Raman is an assistant professor in the department of Architecture, JNAFAU, Hyderabad, India. She also runs a student club by the name “Blues” which acts as a platform for students across various disciplines in the University to discuss various issues around the current urban water crisis. Her research interests are around social, cultural, political and economic dimensions of sustainable design.