Water governance and the colonial urban project: the Dharmambudhi lake in Bengaluru, India

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This paper uses the example of a lost urban lake – the Dharmambudhi within the south Indian city of Bengaluru to illustrate profound and long standing effects of historical socio-technical infrastructural change. We demonstrate processes by which capitalist urban development and notions of the sanitary city in the 19th century led to collapse of the lake system and its conversion into a bus station. We also show how by removing the use of the water body, it became possible to destroy a critical urban ecological infrastructure, thus making it unusable to people who depended upon it to sustain their lives and livelihoods. This coupled with technocratic narratives of efficiency and scarcity led to co-opting of the resource rendering them separate from urban life.


Techno-managerial urban development; social-ecological systems change; water infrastructure; Bengaluru; Sanitary cities