Cheruvu are found in Chitoor and Cuddapah districts in Andhra
Pradesh. They are reservoirs to store runoff. Cheruvu
embankments are fitted with thoomu (sluices), alugu
or marva or kalju (flood weir) and kalava
The Kohlis, a small group of cultivators, built some 43,381
water tanks in the district of Bhandara, Maharashtra, some 250-300
years ago. These tanks constituted the backbone of irrigation
in the area until the government took them over in the 1950s.
It is still crucial for sugar and rice irrigation. The tanks
were of all sizes, often with provisions to bring water literally
to the doorstep of villagers.
These are check dams or diversion weirs built across rivers.
A traditional system found in Maharashtra, their presence raises
the water level of the rivers so that it begins to flow into
channels. They are also used to impound water and form a large
Where a bandhara was built across a small stream, the
water supply would usually last for a few months after the rains.
They are built either by villagers or by private persons who
received rent-free land in return for their public act
Most Bandharas are defunct today. A very few are still in use.
The community-managed phad irrigation system, prevalent in northwestern
Maharashtra, probably came into existence some 300-400 years
ago. The system operated on three rivers in the Tapi basin -
Panjhra, Mosam and Aram - in Dhule and Nasik districts (still
in use in some places here).
|The system starts with a bandhara (check dam or diversion-weir)
built across a rivers. From the bandharas branch out
kalvas (canals) to carry water into the fields. The length
of these canals varies from 2-12 km. Each canal has a uniform
discharge capacity of about 450 litres/second. Charis
(distributaries) are built for feeding water from the kalva
to different areas of the phad. Sarangs (field
channels) carry water to individual fields. Sandams (escapes),
along with kalvas and charis, drain away excess
water. In this way water reaches the kayam baghayat (agricultural
command area), usually divided into four phads (blocks).
The size of a phad can vary from 10-200 ha, the average
being 100-125 ha. Every year, the village decides which phads
to use and which to leave fallow. Only one type of crop is
allowed in one phad. Generally, sugarcane is grown in one
or two phads; seasonal crops are grown in the others. This
ensures a healthy crop rotation system that maintains soil
fertility, and reduces the danger of waterlogging and salinity.
The phad system has given rise to a unique social
system to manage water use.
Tanks, called kere in Kannada, were the predominant traditional
method of irrigation in the Central Karnataka Plateau, and were
fed either by channels branching off from anicuts (chech
dams) built across streams, or by streams in valleys. The outflow
of one tank supplied the next all the way down the course of
the stream; the tanks were built in a series, usually situated
a few kilometres apart. This ensured a) no wastage through overflow,
and b) the seepage of a tank higher up in the series would be
collected in the next lower one.
Ramtek model has been named after water
harvesting structures in the town of Ramtek, Maharashtra. A
scientific analysis revealed an intricate network of groundwater
and surface waterbodies, intrinsically connected through surface
and underground canals. A fully evolved system, this model harvested
runoff through tanks, supported by high yielding wells and structures
like baories, kundis, and
waterholes. This system,
intelligently designed to utlise every raindrop falling in the
watershed area is disintegrating due to neglect and ignorance.
Constructed and maintained mostly by malguzars (landowners),
these tanks form a chain, extending from the foothills to the
plains, conserving about 60-70 per cent of the total runoff.
Once tanks located in the upper reaches close to the hills were
filled to capacity, the water flowed down to fill successive
tanks, generally through interconnecting channels. This sequential
arrangement generally ended in a small waterhole to store whatever
water remained unstored.
The presence of the Ramtek ridge in the middle, having a steep
slope on both sides, results in quick runoffs and little percolation.
This might have led the residents of the southern plains of
the Ramtek hills to construct different types of water conservation
structures (like tanks) where they could trap the maximum
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