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2015 | 37 |
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Traditional water harvesting structures and sustainable water management in India: a socio-hydrological review

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Water harvesting systems are traditional technologies that have met the needs of local populations for many centuries indicating the systems are clearly sustainable. It is simply defined as a method for inducing, collecting, storing and conserving local surface run-off for future productive use. It is one of the oldest and most commonly used sustainable water management systems in India. There are various types of systems to harvest rainwater in India ranging from very simple to the complex industrial systems. Examples of traditional rainwater systems in India include bamboo pipes and Apatani systems of eastern Himalayas, Ghul of western Himalayas, Zabo and Cheo-ozihi of north eastern India, Dongs, Garh and Dara of Brahmaputra valley, Kund, Khadin, Talabs, Beri, Johad, Baoli etc. of Thar desert and Gujrat, the Havelis of Jabalpur, bandh and bandhulia of Satna, virda of Gujarat, ahar-pynes of Bihar, Eri and Kulam of eastern coastal plains, Jackwells of islands, most of which showed immense structural simplicity and high efficiency. Almost all forts in India, built in different terrains and climatic conditions, had elaborate arrangements for drinking water. Most of the old temples in south India built centuries ago have large tanks in their premises. These tanks are either fed by harvested rain water or by tapping underground springs. The traditional water-wisdom at all levels of the society ensured adequate availability of water for all, which in turn, formed the basis for all round development and prosperity. We should again learn and comprehend the ancient knowledge and apply it in our modern society to get rid of the present water stressed condition.
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  • Department of Environmental Studies, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, India
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