"Avdhuta, gagan ghata
gharani re, Pachim disha sa ulti badli,Rum jhum barse meha.Utho gyani, khet
sambhalo,bah nisrega paani."
A call of a well known Indian poet, Kabir, to the farmers to manage the soil and water
works as the monsoon comes knocking. Rain has always occupied a place of significance in
an Indian farmers life.
India can be divided into 15 ecological zones. And, each zone has a distinct system of
harnessing rainwater. Although, being increasingly marginalised by newly emerging
techniques, these traditional wisdoms continue to exist and flourish - ensuring water and
life for many.
In the western and central Himalayas, diversion channels - kuhls or guhls were built to
draw water from hill streams or springs. The length of these channels varied from 1 - 15
km, and carried a discharge of 15 - 100 litres per second. In Meghalaya, bamboo pipes are
used to tap spring water for irrigation, which finally reduces to 20 - 80 drops per minute
at the site of the plant, functioning like drip irrigation. The zabo system of cultivation
is practised in Kikruma village of Nagaland. It is an intelligent combination of forestry,
agriculture and animal care with a soil erosion control.
The ahar - pyne system of irrigation is prevalent in south Bihar. Ahars are rectangular
catchment basins, and pynes are channels built to utilise the water flowing from the
seasonal streams. Kunds in Thar desert, are covered underground tanks with an artificially
prepared catchment area to improve runoff. The entire structure resembles a flying saucer
or a stupa to many. Khadins are a perfect example of runoff farming. It was developed by
the Paliwal Brahmins of Jaisalmer around the 15 th century.
Kasargod district, Malabar, has Surangams. It is a tunnel dug through a laterite
hillock from the periphery of which moistures seeps out. Eris, tanks of Tamil Nadu, while
irrigating vast tracts of land also maintained the ecological harmony of the region.
It is evident that down the ages, healthy relationship between technology and water
governance systems has prevailed. However, today, bureaucrats frown and pop umbrellas when
|a book by Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain about the dying traditions of local rainwater
harvesting is also available in Hindi. Contact CSE's Sales Department at: email@example.com