This research is focused on the land use land cover changes and urban expansion in megacity; Delhi, and highlights the major impact of the rapid growth of population and urbanization on the LULC changes for the period of thirty-four years, which need immediate attention. The multi-temporal satellite data and visual interpretation methods were used through Arc GIS Software. The results show that the built-up land has increased by 14.41 km2 /annum whereas agricultural, waste, barren, and scrubland shrink by 9.59 km2 /annum, 4.29 km2 /annum respectively, during this period. The built-up area expanded from 298 km2 to 773.59 km2 from 1985 to 2018 on the cost of agricultural, waste, barren, and scrubland. The increment of forest 2.92 percent during this period shows a healthy sign. The findings would provide insight to the planners and policymakers; for the management of urban land, and problems related to the growth of city regions.


Key words:

Urban Growth, LULCC, Built-Up Area, GIS, Remote Sensing


Urbanization is one of the most important global change processes. As the share of people in, and the footprint of, urban areas continue to grow globally and locally, understanding urbanization processes and resulting land use both their patterns and intensity is increasingly important with respect to natural resource use, sociodemographics, health, and global environmental change (Seto and Reenberg, 2014). For decades, urban studies have been grappling with the question of how to define “urban”; the definition of urban includes comparatively straightforward official definitions, such as those that use the administrative unit with a set minimum number of inhabitants (McIntyre et al. 2000 ), but, in some cases, it also includes such factors as population density, builtup area (urban landscape), commuting density, travel distance (Nilsson et al. 2014), and proportion of workforce engaged in non-agricultural economic activities (Census of India 2011). 

Urbanization has been a megatrend of global land-use change that can be observed in all parts of the world. By 2050 close to 70 percent of the global population will live in cities (Eurosat,2016). The present trend of urbanization in developing countries is especially due to rural-urban migration, the geographic expansion of urban areas through annexations, and the transformation and reclassification of rural villages into small urban settlements (United Nations, 2017). As has been observed in the rest of the world, India had similar impacts of urbanization and land use land cover (LULC) change. The independence of the country gave further impetus to the urbanization in Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai (Delhi Census Handbook 1991). The economic liberalization policy of 1991 opened up the Indian economy to the international market, which saw the incoming of a large share of foreign direct investment (FDI) in metropolitan cities. Delhi region received a maximum share of FDI compared to other regions of the country. Along with this allowance of 100 percent, FDI in real estate and infrastructure by the Indian government has made Delhi susceptible to rapid urban growth (Namperumal et al. 2011). 

Delhi is one of the many megacities struggling with rapid urbanization and gigantic levels of pollution from industrial, residential and transportation sources (Mohan et al.2007). After independence, when Delhi witnessed a large influx of migrants, within a very short time the population of Delhi was approximately doubled. In a large migrating population, the city has expanded in a very unplanned and uncontrolled manner (Rahman, 2007). Such types of unplanned expansions have a direct impact on the quality of the urban environment affecting the efficiency of the people and their productivity in the overall socio-economic development (Netzband and Rahman,2007). In light of its past experiences and current trends of development, the emerging future of Delhi is one of the most important issue gaining focus from the authorities to improve the overall quality of life. Land use which is a highly dynamic entity in nature is one of the key parameters to quantify development (Gupta, 2014, 2006). The dynamic land-use database has a vital application to many diverse fields like Biodiversity-Environment, Forestry, Hydrology, Agriculture, Geology, Urban sprawl, etc.,

Location of the Study Area

The present study has been carried out on Delhi, the capital city of India located between the 28º24′17″ and 28º53′00″N latitudes and 76°45′30″ and 77º21′30″E longitudes. The elevation of the city ranges between 213 and 290 m. Delhi, the National Capital Territory situated near the western bank of river Yamuna which spreads over an area of around 1,490 km² is surrounded by the Himalayas in the North and the Aravali ranges in SouthWest. Delhi is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Due to the rapid pace of urbanization, the landscape of Delhi has undergone a change from a rural majority to urban. Delhi has 11 districts with 33 Tehsils/Sub-Divisions. 

Research Question

The purpose of the study is to evaluate the impact of the rapid growth of population on the land use/land cover. To see the spatial pattern of land use/ land cover change over the last 34 years. It is also interesting to investigate the land transformation of different category. The study area witnessed of high population growth over the time periods, and the area drastically changes in last two decades. The horizontal growth of different landuse categories was evaluated through satellite data.


The work has been based on census and satellite data, map sheets and village maps. The data has been processed through Arc-GIS software. The data collection involved satellite Image, secondary published data and limited primary data. To understand the complexity of dynamics of the pattern of land-use change of the city and land transformation, a few indicators were examined. The indicators such as land use, roads, railway network and the agricultural area were captured from map sheets and imagery and each of the layers were digitized. The extension of agriculture land during the last four decades (1985-2018) is determined by computing the area from the digitized map sheets, imagery and compared it with the areas of different time periods. The land use classification is shown in Table-1. To find out the growth of the city and its built-up area; we used Google Earth Image data with limited ground truth verification, Survey of India data, topo sheets, Other data: Census of India 1981,1991, 2001 & 2011, Planning Commission, Master Plan 2001, 2021 of DDA etc. other Ancillary Data provided basic information of the study area. With the help of topographic map (1:50,000), we prepared a base map of the study area, and then rectified all data through base map and proceed for visual classification (figure 1). 

Read More


Rupesh Kumar Gupta
Assistant Professor, Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, University of Delhi, Delhi, India


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