Unruly commons : contestations around Sampangi lake in Bangalore

Unnikrishnan, Hita and Nagendra, Harini (2014) Unruly commons : contestations around Sampangi lake in Bangalore. Policy brief/note. Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi.

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Common pool resources (such as lakes and green spaces) are particularly contested in the urban context, representing unruly environments. Lakes in Bangalore provide a particularly illustrative example of such messiness in environment, social use and in governance. These lakes, initially created by local communities to support agricultural and domestic uses, find their role transformed in the urban context. They support a highly diverse set of user groups often with conflicting interests, deriving benefit from different consumptive and non-consumptive characteristics of the resource. This heterogeneity creates a landscape of contestation where different stakeholders seek to maximize stakes through selectively highlighting different positive traits of the resource. Using an example of a “lost lake”, Sampangi Lake within Bangalore, this paper draws attention to landscape changes around the lake as depicted in maps between 1884 and the present day and relates changes in and around the lake with archival data between 1883 and 1935. These documents demonstrate how environmental characteristics of the lake such as the availability of water, location of siltation and the seasonality of the lake generated different challenges and opportunities for user groups such as gardeners, polo players and brewery owners, resulting in contestations that needed resolution by the colonial government of Mysore. These disagreements are representative of deeper underlying conflicts between commons as recreational resources, and as provisioning sources that are essential for local livelihoods. Such conflicts continue to resonate in Bangalore’s lakes even today, though with a different cultural manifestation and with changes in governance. The paper ends with a reflection on how resolution of these differences for governance provides a reflection of unequal power relations between different traditional and “modern” user groups.

Item Type: Monograph (Policy brief/note)
Authors: Unnikrishnan, Hita and Nagendra, Harini
Subjects: Natural Sciences > Life sciences; biology > Ecology
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Development
Full Text Status: Public
Related URLs:
URI: http://publications.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/id/eprint/196
Publisher URL: http://nehrumemorial.nic.in/images/pdf/occasional/...

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