Over the past two decades, the Environment Support Group (ESG), part of the GoST project, has systematically worked with communities, administrators and the judiciary to build a deep understanding of how water and rain shape cities and their futures. As part of this process, ESG has advanced a major Public Interest Litigation to advance the need to reclaim Bengaluru’s lakes and water commons, which found deep and systematic support from the judiciary. However, the administration did not implement the court orders.
A major consequence has been that Bengaluru, a metropolis with a population exceeding 14 million, has been repeatedly flooded, every time it rains. In 2022 the rains have been extremely intense and over the month of September almost half the neighbourhoods of the city flooded, resulting in extensive loss of property and loss of homes, and threatening the status of the metropolis as the IT Capital of India.
The ESG has played an important role in contextualising why these floods are recurring with intensifying damage in a series of articles and news stories. This has influenced debate, with individuals and companies affected questioning the popular idea that the flooding is simply the consequence of too much rain in a short span. What is resulting is an unique process where ground-up democratic planning is being demanded as a structural way out of this mess.
For ESG, the learnings from the GoST project of the fundamental importance of developing imaginaries that are inclusive and resilient has worked stolidly in engaging with various decision-making bodies, and also encouraging local communities to work structurally for transformation rather than merely be satisfied by reactive schemes.
How Caste and Class Divisions Caused Bengaluru’s Flooding, Leo F. Saldanha, The Wire, 15 September 2022
Fire, Foam and Now Floods, Bhargavi S. Rao, News Click, 12 September 2022
Header photo: pushkar v via Flickr.