Remote Sensing of Urban Dynamics in India

January 22, 2021
6PM IST (India Standard Time)
7:30AM US Eastern time
Speaker: Dr. Ramachandra T. V., Center for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science

Sponsored by GRSS Bangalore Section


GRSS Webinar: Remote Sensing of Urban Dynamics in India

Video link.

Cities’ origin can be traced back to the river valley civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, and China. Initially, these settlements were largely dependent upon agriculture; however, with the growth of population the city size increased and the economic activity transformed into trading. The process of urbanization gained impetus with the industrial revolution 200 years ago and accelerated in the 1990s with globalization and consequent relaxations in the market economy. Most urban and peri-urban regions in developing countries are undergoing economic changes due to globalization with the spurt in developmental activities such as new roads, infrastructure improvements, etc. resulting in the large-scale land cover (LC) change. Many regional environmental problems in urban areas are the consequence of these LC changes. The process of urbanization involves migration from rural to urban areas, increased urban population density, increased levels of consumption, corresponding lifestyle changes, and increased energy consumption; these shifts promote an increase in carbon emissions.

Bangalore has been experiencing unprecedented urbanization and sprawl in recent times due to concentrated developmental activities with impetus on industrialization for the economic development of the region. This concentrated growth has resulted in the increase in population and consequent pressure on infrastructure, natural resources and ultimately giving rise to a plethora of serious challenges such as climate change, enhanced green-house gases emissions, lack of appropriate infrastructure, traffic congestion, and lack of basic amenities (electricity, water, and sanitation) in many localities, etc. During the past few decades, the quantum and composition of urban solid waste generation has changed due to the rise in senseless behavior (dependence on plastics), economic level, changes in the demographic structure, consumer attitude, and lifestyle of the residents. Mis-management of natural resources is evident from (i) sustained inflow of untreated sewage and industrial effluents to lakes; (ii) dumping of solid waste (with 70% being organic) in lake beds and stormwater drains; (iii) transport of untreated wastewater in stormwater drains (water drains are essentially arteries of a landscape carrying water), etc. These ad-hoc approaches have led to the transport of pollutants through leaching to groundwater resources. Higher values of nitrates and heavy metal with instances of kidney failures highlight the gravity of the situation and deteriorating human health.

Unplanned rapid urbanization during the late nineties, witnessed large-scale unrealistic, uncontrolled developmental activities in the neighborhood of wetlands. Land use analysis using temporal remote sensing data of Bangalore City reveals of unrealistic and irresponsible urbanization with a 1028% increase in urban (built-up) area between 1973 and 2017 (i.e., from 8.0% (in 1973) to 78% (in 2017) with a decline of 88% tree cover and 79% water bodies. Land use prediction using Agent-Based Model showed that built-up area would increase to 93.3% by 2020 and 98.5% by 2025, and the landscape is almost at the verge of saturation. Current erroneous design for optimization of land for construction (or concretization, paved surfaces) has resulted in GHG rich, water-scarce, non-resilient, and unlivable while depriving the city dwellers of clean air, water, and environment.

Video link.


Dr. T. V. Ramachandra, FIE, FIEE (UK), FNIE obtained Ph.D. in Ecology and Energy from the Indian Institute of Science. At present, Coordinator of Energy and Wetlands Research Group (EWRG), Convener of Environmental Information System (ENVIS) at Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES). During the past twenty years, he has established an active school of research in the area of energy and the environment ( He is a member of Karnataka State Wetland Authority (2018..), Karnataka State Audit Advisory Committee. He was a member of the Karnataka State level Environment Expert Appraisal Committee (2007-2010), appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, and a member of the Western Ghats task force appointed by the Government of Karnataka. Apart from this TVR is serving in many committees of NGT (National Green Tribunal) related to wetlands of Bangalore.

He is a recipient of the Johny Biosphere Award for Ecology and Environment (2004), Satish Dhawan Young Scientist Award, 2007 of Karnataka State Government, ENVIS Award (2004, 2014), The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, GoI, Namma Bangalorean, 2016 award (Namma Bengaluru Foundation) and Rotary Exemplars 2017- Citizen Extraordinaire award (Rotary Club of Bangalore), Karnataka State Parisara Award, 2017-18, GoK, Khadri Achuathan Memorial Samvahana Award (Environment) 2018, on World Communicators Day by PRCI, research advisor at the NanYang Academy of Sciences, Singapore (2019 ) and Eminent Engineer, Institution of Engineers, Karnataka (2019). TVR (0.68%) features in the 2% of top scientists in the recent global ranking of scientists.

He is an Elected Fellow of the Institution of Engineers (IE, India; 2003), National Institute of Ecology (2011), Indian Association of Hydrologists (India; 2006), the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE, UK; 2005), and a Senior Member, IEEE (USA; 2000) and Association of Energy Engineers (USA; 2000). TVR’s research interests are in the area of aquatic ecosystems, biodiversity, ecological modeling, Western Ghats ecology, energy systems, renewable energy, energy conservation, energy planning, geo-informatics, environmental engineering education research, and curriculum development at the tertiary level. He has published over 323 research papers in the reputed peer-reviewed international and national journals, 69 book chapters, 333 papers in the international and national symposiums as well as 19 books. In addition, he has delivered a number of plenary lectures at national and international conferences. Publication “Milking diatoms for energy” is seminal work in biofuel research evident from reports in Scientific American, BBC, national dailies, etc.

He has guided 134 students for Master’s dissertation and twelve students for Doctoral degrees. TVR has traveled widely across the country for field research and also for delivering lectures at Schools and Colleges. He has taken initiatives through biennial symposium (popular as Lake series), training programs, and workshops for capacity building at various levels. Publications are available at

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