Restoration of Urban Water Commons: Navigating Social-Ecological Fault Lines and Inequities

Amrita Sen, Hita Unnikrishnan, Harini Nagendra
2021 Ecological Restoration  
This open access article is distributed under the terms of the CC-BY-NC-ND license ( and is freely available online at: ABSTRACT The networked tank/lake system of Bengaluru has been created by human intervention, with a documented history as far back as the 9th century C.E. The construction and maintenance of the tanks was overseen by local chieftains, and supported by local communities, further managed by caste-based and
more » ... der-based systems of manual labor. With urban expansion, the lakes lost their importance as the primary sources of water, leading to large scale degradation. Land-use transformations impacted the socio-ecological commons landscape, exacerbating marginalization in nature-dependent communities such as grazers and fishers due to loss of livelihoods. State initiatives coupled with community interventions helped in revival of some lakes in the past decade, though others remain severely degraded. Privileged and underprivileged caste groups describe a very different picture of the past, demonstrating rather divergent perspectives on the way in which urbanization and lake revival has impacted their lives. Based on a case study of selected lakes in Bengaluru, we establish how social inclusions and exclusions are manifested through decision making on lake management. We also seek to understand how these hierarchies have changed in response to urbanization, with aspirations towards a rhetoric of restoration, but a focus on urban greening and recreational aesthetics in practice. The impacts of urban transition and lake revival are shaped by differing power relationships manifested within the caste hierarchy.
doi:10.3368/er.39.1-2.120 fatcat:yoni6ekvxnbt7auiqmln2lezde