Original Paper

Environmental Management

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 840-850

First online:

Changes in Public Commons as a Consequence of Urbanization: The Agara Lake in Bangalore, India

  • R. D’SouzaAffiliated withAshoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)
  • , H. NagendraAffiliated withAshoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change (CIPEC), Indiana University Email author 

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The city of Bangalore in southern India is rapidly expanding, resulting in major transformations in land use, wetland management, and the distribution of green spaces. This paper examines how transformations in land use and governance consequent to urbanization can change people’s perceptions of and interactions with an urban ecological commons, using the case study of the Agara lake in the south Indian city of Bangalore. In less than four decades, the landscape surrounding the lake has altered from a fundamentally agricultural area, dependent on the lake for irrigation and drinking water, to a densely urbanized area where the lake is used predominantly for recreation. A change in governance from community management to state management has sidelined the fishers, fodder collectors and agricultural users who traditionally maintained this lake. The governmental agencies that are supposed to maintain the lake are unable to do so due to a complex governance structure, with overlapping jurisdictions, compounded by an ongoing litigation. Over the past decades, the lake has largely transitioned into an urban green space primarily used for recreation and nature watching. This case study provides us with a broader understanding of how changes in governance consequent to urbanization and city expansion can impact interactions between people and ecological commons in a rapidly growing Indian city.


Cities Green spaces India Lakes Urban commons