TRADITIONAL WATERHARVESTINGININDIA Part I VTHAR DESERT REGIONWATER MANAGEMENT FORUMThe Institution of Engineers (India)http://www.wmf-iei.org/index.php/1
Paar system • A common water harvesting practice in thewestern Rajasthan region.• It is a common place where rainwater flowsfrom the agar (catchment) and in the processpercolates into the sandy soil.• In order to access rajani pani (percolated water)kuis /beris are dug in the agor (storage area).• Kuis or beris are normally 5 to 12 meters deep , constructed inmasonry.• Normally six to ten of them are constructed in a paar, numbersdecided depending on size of the paar• Rainwater harvested through paar is known as Patali paani.• Interlinkages between traditional water harvesting system andland development measures act as a drought-proofing mode.• Fodder and Rabi crops can be grown in adjoining land, which canbe irrigated perennially by the paar system.
Nadis (Village ponds)• Village ponds, found near Jodhpur and Barmer in Rajasthan.• Used for storing water from adjoining natural catchment during the rainy season.• Site is selected by the villagers based on an available natural catchments and itswater yield potential.• Water availability from nadi would range from 2 to 12 months after rains.• Those are dune areas range from 1.5 to 4 meters and those in sandy plains variedfrom 3 to 12 metres.• Location of the nadi had a strong bearing on its storage capacity due to relatedcatchment and runoff characteristics.• Water stored in a nadi is generally used for drinking by livestock and humanbeings.• It acts as a source of groundwater recharge through seepage & deep percolation.• A poorly maintained nadi suffers high water losses through evaporation, seepageand biotic interference resulting in rapid siltation and pollution.• Economic life of a nadi is 25 years, however with due care in repair, maintenanceand desilting, a nadi may function for a much longer life.
Khadin• A khadin, also called a dhora, is an ingenious construction designed toharvest surface runoff water for agriculture.• It is popular in hyperarid part of Rajasthan.• Runoff from upland and rocky surfaces is collected in adjoining valleyagainst an earthen embankment having a masonry waste weir for outflowof run-off excess.• Its main feature is a very long (100-300 m) earthen embankment builtacross the lower hill slopes lying below gravelly uplands.• Sluices and spillways allow excess standing water to drain off for cropcultivation.• The khadin system is based on the principle of harvesting rainwater onfarmland and subsequent use of this water- saturated land for cropproduction.
• A khadin farm is developed on the basis of rainfallprobability, available catchment area and its runoffgeneration potential.• Apart from the submerged area, khadin beds arecultivated from top to bottom on receding moisture.• Ponding of water in a khadin induces continuousgroundwater recharge.• The perched subsurface water is extracted through borewells developed in the khadin or in the immediatevicinity downstream.
Tankas (small tank)• Underground tanks, found traditionally in mostBikaner houses, Dwarka and old houses ofAhmedabad cities in Pol area• Built in main house or in the courtyard.• Circular holes made in the ground, lined with finepolished lime, in which rainwater was collected.• Often beautifully decorated with tiles to keep watercool.• Water used only for drinking.• In any year having less rainfall, water from nearbywells and tanks would be obtained to fill tankas.• Surface runoff can be diverted to the tanka by creatinga clean catchment around it.• Constructed with lime plaster and thatched withbushes has a life span of 3-4 years.• With decomposition of brush wood, falling of leachateand entry of foreign material with runoff throughopen inlet, quality of stored water in the tankadeteriorates over time making it unhygienic fordrinking.
Kunds / Kundis• Covered underground tanks ,Developed for tackling drinking waterproblems.• Looks like an upturned cup nestling in a saucer.• Harvests rainwater for drinking, and dot the sandier tracts of the TharDesert in western Rajasthan (also in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh) and inareas where the limited groundwater available is moderate to highlysaline.• Provides convenient, clean and sweet water for drinking.• Has a saucer-shaped catchment area that gently slopes towards thecentre where the well is situated.• A wire mesh across water-inlets prevents debris from falling into thewell-pit.• The sides of the well-pit are covered with (disinfectant) lime and ash.
Baoris / Bers• Baoris or bers are community wells,found in Rajasthan, that are usedmainly for drinking.• Most of them are very old and werebuilt by banjaras (mobile tradingcommunities) for their drinking waterneeds.• They can hold water for a long timebecause of almost negligible waterevaporation.• The baoris are not merely tanks, butalso groundwater recharge facilities.
Vav / vavdi / Baoli / Bavadi• Traditional step-wells are called vav or vavadi in Gujarat, or baolis or bavadis inRajasthan and northern India.• These were wells - stepped wells in fact.• Stepped and moving into the bowels of the earth, some five to six storeys in height.• Designed to bring the people and Gods together, these wells attempted to enticeGods to leave their abodes for a cool drink of water - the elixir of life.• These consisted of two parts:– a vertical shaft from which water was drawn and– surrounding it were the inclined subterranean passageways, chambers andsteps, which provided access to the well.– The galleries and chambers were carved generously, which became coolretreats during summers.
• Basic difference between step-wells on the one hand, and tanks and wellson the other, was to make it easier for people to reach the ground water,and to maintain and manage the well.• A typical well is made up of– the Mandapa (the entrance pavilion), which forms the main approachat the ground level;– the Kuta (the flight of steps) leads down to the water or Kund (tank) atthe bottom.• Most of the wells are decorated with sculptures on all available surfaces.• When located within or at the edge of a village, it was mainly used forutilitarian purposes and as a cool place for social gatherings.• When located outside the village, on trade routes, they were oftenfrequented as resting places.• Many important step-wells are located on the major military and traderoutes from Patan in the north to the sea coast of Saurashtra.• When used exclusively for irrigation, a sluice was constructed at the rim toreceive the lifted water and lead it to a trough or pond, from where it ranthrough a drainage system and was channeled into the fields.
• Jhalaras were human-made tanks, found inRajasthan and Gujarat, essentially meant forcommunity use and for religious rites.• They were constructed at exorbitant cost andwere often monumental, beautiful mansions withfine embroidery stone works covering large areasand were associated with religion and culture.• Often rectangular in design, jhalaras have stepson three or four sides.• Jhalars are ground water bodies which are builtto ensure easy and regular supply of water to thesurrounding areas.• The jhalars are rectangular in shape with steps onthree or even on all the four sides of the tank .• The jhalaras collect subterranean seepage of atalab or a lake located upstream.• Water from these jhalaras was not used fordrinking but for only community bathing andreligious ritesJhalaras