About GAIA GAIA Case Studies Global GIS Agenda 21 Country Data Model Database


Trends of Urbanization in Roorkee & its Evironmental Impacts : a report
Urbanization Process
Problems Associated with Development
Trends of Urbanisation in Roorkee and its Environmental Impacts


Roorkee lies at 29 51' N Latitude and 77 53' E Longitude in the state Uttar Pradesh, 274 above mean sea level. It lies 172 kilometre North of New Delhi on the Delhi - Dehradun - Mussoorie Highway. Another highway, 55 km long, Roorkee - Hardwar - Rishikesh links Roorkee to the Hindu Pilgrimage viz.:Badrinath,Kedarnath, Gangotri (origin of the Ganges river) and Yamunatori (origin of the Yamuna river).

Urbanisation Process

Roorkee is named after Ruri, the wife of Rajput chieftain. It was believed to be the capital of a pargana in the time of Mughal Emperor Akber, and finds a mention as such in Ain-a-Akbari.

In the beginning of 19th century, Roorkee was chosen for the location of a cantonment by the then, British rulers. Roorkee was a very modest mud-built hamlet at that time having a population of 5511 (in 1847). It was resurrected from this non-descript position by the construction of the Upper Ganges Canal(1842-1854) and the concomitant establishment of Thomason Collage of Civil Engineering (in 1847).

Thomason Collage was raised to the status of a university and known as University of Roorkee. By and By Roorkee became known in academic circles. the University of Roorkee is not only the first engineering university of Asia but also third in the world. As the university was a catalyst in the establishment of other R&D institutions of national importance, Roorkee rapidly became one of the foremost educational and research centres in India. This event stimulated the urbanisation of Roorkee as several new institution came to be established in the proximity of the university.

  • Government Workshop
  • Thomason Collage of Civil Engineering
  • Bengal Engineers Group Headquarter( Engineering wing of Indian Army)
  • University of Roorkee
  • Central Building Research Institute
  • Irrigation Research Institute
  • Irrigation Design Office
  • Structural Engineering Research Institute
  • National Institute of Hydrology
  • World Bank Parallel Canal Project Office


Demographic pattern before 20th Century

The population of Roorkee slowly but substantially increased during except in the census year 1865. Some fluctuations during 1853-1872 occurred due to the highly instable condition of the region at that period especially after the 1857 War of Independence. All in all, there was an increase of 215.13% during the period 1847-1891.

Demographic pattern during the present Century

There was a decrease during 1901-1911 and a steep increase during 1931-1941. the former was the result of famine and epidemic which occurred during 1899, whereas an extra ordinary increase in the male population of the cantonment area due to the onset of the second world war was resulted in latter. The rapid increase during 1951 to 1971 growth in educational sector, and migration of the people from Pakistan to India. Overall the population has increased by a whooping 484.52% so far in the 20th century.


The climate of Roorkee is typical of north-western India, with very hot summers and very cold winters. In terms of precipitation, Roorkee is semi arid. The south-west monsoon generally breaks in mid june and the north-east during November-December. Winters begin from late September and continue through February. The coldest months are generally December and January, when the minimum temperature approaches zero. A rise in temperature is experienced from the beginning of March, which heralds the onset of summer. The day temperature is around 40 C and warm winds blow frequently.

Problems Associated with Development

  • Congested and unplanned settlement with narrow roads- this severely hampers traffic and very often creates traffic jams. The location of grain and vegetable market in the city core contributes to this problem.
  • encroachment and its ineffective removal all along the roads.
  • disparity in the potential of a site and its current level of utilisation.
  • derth of well planned and managed open spaces in the city in general, especially, in the old city which virtually have no open spaces or vegetation.
  • improper drainage system - several low lying areas of the city get flooded during rains.
  • inadequate sewerage system - does not cover the entire population.
  • solid waste and sewerage disposal sites are created on non-scientific basis.
  • power demand not completely met - in summer power failures are long and often.
  • inadequate water supply - eventhough civic authorities claims that water is supplied round the clock at a brisk rate; in the peak hours in summer proper head is not available in several areas. It lasts to a breakdown of watersuply then city faces the long power failures.

Trends of Urbanisation in Roorkee and its Environmental Impacts

Developmental Trends

Urban Structure
During the initial years of development, the urban structure of Roorkee was 'open-grained-single-nuclei' type, which gradually got transformed to' compact-grained-multiple nuclei' type. This was accompanied with a high rate of increase in population density.

There has been an overall rise of 485% in population during the last 90 years; the maximum rise occurring in the 1940s and the minimum rise 3.25 during 1901-1911. Population has a statistically significant rising trend.

Sex Ratio
The information on male : female ratio presents surprisingly sharp decline of the order of about 40% during the initial four decades of this century. The data thereafter shows a stabilising trend, yet the current value(0.625) is far less than the national average of 0.927. these results points towards the possibility of a higher female mortality rate.

There is a slow & steady trend of increasing female literacy over the last four decades while the male literacy has been inconsistent. For both sexes the current level of literacy is significantly lower than the national average(62.86% in males and 39.42% in females).

Birth & Death Ratio
There is a statistically significant decreasing trend in the instances of death and an increasing trend in the birth:death ratio; an increase of over 100% has been observed during the last four decades.

Environmental Impacts

The maximum ambient temperatures have steadily increased and the minimum ambient temperatures have steadily decreased over the years.

The statistical trend line shows a visible decrease in annual rainfall though the trend is not yet highly significant

Air & Noise Pollution
There is an increase in the noise and air pollution levels. As Roorkee does not have any major industries, the deterioration in the quality of these environmental factors is evidently caused by the vehicular traffic and the din created by human activities in the highly populated areas. This is a qualitative assessment as city lacks in air quality monitoring network.

Changing Land Use
The impact of rapid urbanisation is seen in the changing land use pattern during the years 1961 through 1991. The percentage of built-up area has increased has increased from 45% (in 1961) to 72% (in 1991), causing a 27% decrease in the productive agricultural land of the town and its surroundings.

Run-off and Recharge pattern
There is a 17% increase in run-off over the last two decades; causing diminished recharging of groundwater.

Ground Water
The water table displays a visibly decreasing trend. The decreasing recharge rate is likely to be due to a combination of these factors : decrease in rainfall during 1975-1991; continuously increasing built-up area; and gradually increasing withdrawal to meet the water supply demand of the city.

Non-scientifically designed waste dumping site
The present disposal site for the roughly 200 tonnes per day garbage as also the town's sewage, is situated upstream of the aquifer serving the town's water supply. There is thus very strong possibility of the present waste disposal site causing contamination of the entire aquifer thereby adversely affecting the towns's water supply.

Copyright 1995-2002 by:   ESS   Environmental Software and Services GmbH AUSTRIA