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5 Traditional Water Conservation Methods In India

Given that these methods are simple and eco-friendly for the most part, they are not just highly effective for the people who rely on them but they are also good for the environment

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With rainfall patterns changing almost every year, the Indian government has started looking at means to revive the traditional systems of water harvesting in the country. Wikimedia Commons
With rainfall patterns changing almost every year, the Indian government has started looking at means to revive the traditional systems of water harvesting in the country. Wikimedia Commons

A key element in any strategy which has the objective of alleviating the water scarcity crisis in India is water conservation. With rainfall patterns changing almost every year, the Indian government has started looking at means to revive the traditional systems of water harvesting in the country. Given that these methods are simple and eco-friendly for the most part, they are not just highly effective for the people who rely on them but they are also good for the environment.

Archaeological evidence shows that the practice of water conservation is deep-rooted in the science of ancient India. Excavations show that the cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation had excellent systems of water harvesting and drainage. The settlement of Dholavira, laid out on a slope between two stormwater channels, is a great example of water engineering. Chanakya’s Arthashashtra mentions irrigation using water harvesting systems.

Drawing upon centuries of experience, Indians continued to build structures to catch, hold and store monsoon rainwater for the dry seasons to come. Here is a brief account of the unique water conservation systems prevalent in India and the communities who have practiced them for decades before the debate on climate change even existed.

ALSO READ: 5 water conservation ways that are ideal for Indian conditions

1. Jhalara

Jhalaras are typically rectangular-shaped stepwells that have tiered steps on three or four sides. These stepwells collect the subterranean seepage of an upstream reservoir or a lake. The city of Jodhpur has eight jhalaras, the oldest being the Mahamandir Jhalara that dates back to 1660 AD.

To minimize water loss through evaporation, a series of layered steps were built around the reservoirs to narrow and deepen the wells. Wikimedia Commons
To minimize water loss through evaporation, a series of layered steps were built around the reservoirs to narrow and deepen the wells. Wikimedia Commons

2. Bawari

These are unique stepwells that were once a part of the ancient networks of water storage in the cities of Rajasthan. Water is diverted to man-made tanks through canals. The water would then percolate into the ground, raising the water table and recharging a deep and intricate network of aquifers. To minimize water loss through evaporation, a series of layered steps were built around the reservoirs to narrow and deepen the wells.

3. Johads

Johads, one of the oldest systems used to conserve and recharge groundwater, are small earthen check dams that capture and store rainwater. Constructed in an area with naturally high elevation on three sides, a storage pit is made by excavating the area, and excavated soil is used to create a wall on the fourth side.

ALSO READ: Lessons India can learn from California and St Kitts

4. Panam Keni

The Kuruma tribe (a native tribe of Wayanad) uses a special type of well, called the Panam Keni, to store water. Wooden cylinders are made by soaking the stems of toddy palms in water for a long time so that the core rots away until only the hard outer layer remains. These cylinders, four feet in diameter as well as depth, are then immersed in groundwater springs located in fields and forests. This is the secret behind how these wells have abundant water even in the hottest summer months.

Baolis on trade routes were often frequented as resting places. Wikimedia Commons
Baolis on trade routes were often frequented as resting places. Wikimedia Commons

5. Baoli

Built by the nobility for civic, strategic or philanthropic reasons, baolis were secular structures from which everyone could draw water. These beautiful stepwells typically have beautiful arches, carved motifs and sometimes, rooms on their sides. The locations of baolis often suggest the way in which they were used. Baolis within villages were mainly used for utilitarian purposes and social gatherings. Baolis on trade routes were often frequented as resting places.

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Himachal Pradesh CM Formulates Development Policy for Sustainable Development of Himalayan States

The conclave called for development of new tourist destinations as old hill resorts had reached their saturation stage

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sustainable development, himachal
The conclave called for development of new tourist destinations as old hill resorts had reached their saturation stage. Wikimedia Commons

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Sunday advocated the formulation of a holistic development policy for sustainable development of the Himalayan states so that they could progress on par with other states.

Addressing a conclave here of Chief Ministers and representatives of 10 Himalayan states, Thakur said about 66 per cent geographical area of Himachal Pradesh is covered with forests and if ecologically viable and scientific silviculture practices are allowed, the state can earn additional annual revenue of Rs 4,000 crore.

The conclave called for development of new tourist destinations as old hill resorts had reached their saturation stage. Thakur said that the state is neither able to get full revenue from its forest wealth, nor undertake developmental activities over a large geographical area on account of national laws and court orders.

sustainable development, himachal
Thakur said that the state is neither able to get full revenue from its forest wealth, nor undertake developmental activities over a large geographical area on account of national laws and court orders. Wikimedia Commons

“Therefore, Himachal Pradesh should be suitably compensated for being deprived of revenue worth crores for being denied harnessing of its forest wealth,” he said. He urged the Finance Commission and the Union government to provide adequate grant to revenue deficit states so that they have adequate funds for capital investment after overcoming the deficit remaining post-devolution.

He said that Himachal Pradesh has seen a huge fall in income following GST implementation and urged the Finance Commission for proper evacuation of GST for the state for the remaining 33 months.

Thakur said that the state has immense tourism potential but due to non-availability of rail and air connectivity, a big airport needs to be constructed. The construction of roads in Himalayan states was expensive and rail network was almost negligible.

himachal pradesh, sustainable development
Thakur also said most of the rivers in the country originate from the Himalayas and the Himalayan states are playing the most significant role in furthering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s water conservation initiative. Wikimedia Commons

Moreover, the Himalayan states are prone to several natural calamities on account of the hilly terrain and it was the need of the hour that the Union government ensures adequate allocation of funds under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for these states, he said.

ALSO READ: Fourfold Increase in Himachal Farmers’ Income with Crop Diversification Project

Thakur also said most of the rivers in the country originate from the Himalayas and the Himalayan states are playing the most significant role in furthering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s water conservation initiative.

According to the Chief Minister, since most Himalayan states have to depend on the Centre and the Finance Commissions for financial management, they are facing a lot of hardships after the scrapping of the Planning Commission. (IANS)