Resilience and conservation of urban commons: Lessons from three community-restored lakes in Bengaluru



This chapter discusses collective and multiactor interventions by local communities in Bengaluru, in conserving urban ecological commons — specifically, urban lakes — which provides a range of services to residents, as well as protecting the overall resilience of the city. Bengaluru, which once had an agrarian ecological landscape nourished by a large network of interconnected rainwater harvesting structures — tanks or lakes, has now grown to a megacity. Rapid urbanization has been accompanied by conversion of many of these lakes into other forms of land use, with a decline in the functioning of lakes and their surrounding reliant socio-ecological systems. With the import of piped water to the city since the early 20th century, lakes lost much of their perceived relevance for policymakers. Waste discharge and sewage eventually polluted most of the lakes and choked the overflow channels that connected lakes along a topographic gradient, reducing the flow of water. In recent years, spurred by a resurgent awareness of the importance of lakes, a growing number of civic and community efforts have resulted in lake restoration, in collaboration with the Government.