Gateways to Environmental Justice in India's Garden City: Local Solutions to Global Challenges
ACCESS TO ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: A COMPARATIVE STUDY, A. Harding, ed., Brill, 2007
Posted: 11 Feb 2005 Last revised: 24 Jun 2014
This paper uses interview and secondary data collected in Bangalore in 1995 and 2003 to question the extent to which the citizens of Bangalore can, did and do use legal gateways to maintain a balance between economy and environment.
Bangalore, capital of the southern Indian state of Karnataka, has long been known as the 'Garden City'. As compared to many cities in India, it still deserves that title. But in recent decades, the city has been placed under strain by a tremendous growth in population. A good deal of this pressure manifests itself in the issue of access to land.
Access to land is a subject intimately connected an ever more pressing theme in Bangalore: Economic liberalization - the opening of the economy to the private sector generally, and to especially to foreign investors. In 1995, interviewees in the city noted that public attention to environmental issues had begun in earnest that year, in direct response to the increasingly investment-oriented language of municipal and state government bodies in Karnataka. There were suggestions that investors, particularly foreign ones, are to blame for rising accommodation costs; are causing traditional agricultural activities to be displaced; and might receive preferential access to utilities.
After a brief survey of gateways and obstacles to environmental justice in Bangalore, the paper considers the law and politics of land use. It gives detailed consideration to the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) saga. The BMIC case demonstrates a shifts towards: more authoritarian land acquisition practices on the part of the State; larger-scale development projects and public-private partnerships, with the private sector taking a leading role.
The paper concludes that gateways to environmental justice in Bangalore are of varying width, and in varying states - from infancy to maturity, decay to rejuvenation. Economic liberalization has introduced a new level of complexity into state-civil society relations with regard to the campaign for environmental justice.
Keywords: Environment, Bangalore, access to justice, foreign investment, liberalization, access to land, land acquisition
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