Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. – The Ancient Water Palaces!

Our ancestors applied this knowledge in water resource engineering to address challenges arising from seasonal scarcity. They designed and constructed dams and an array of water structures much earlier than the Greek, Roman or other ancient civilizations. Every region of the country developed its own water harvesting techniques, reflecting the geographical peculiarities and cultural uniqueness of different communities. Baori’s, Jhalaras, Water temples, Step Wells, and Kunds were constructed wherever deemed necessary.

In villages of India, there are countless stories from mythology, folklore and songs extolling the glory of our sacred rivers and lakes. The story of Bhagirath single handedly diverting the mighty Ganga has been told from generation to generation. Archeological sites of Mohenjodaro and Harrappa which date back 5000 years throw light on the awareness of the civilization about water resource management for domestic and irrigation purposes. Water was considered the purifier and hence utilized for religious ceremonies and rituals. The Vedic seers in several hymns invoked “Varuna” the presiding deity of Water, and request him to be generous to mankind and remove all physical defilements. In the Vedic period people took precautions to use water free from all impurities and took great amount of care in adequate supply of clean, hygienic and unpolluted water. Ancient and medieval Sanskrit literature also reveals that people had adequate and plentiful supply of water for drinking, cooking, washing and other purposes. They were clear about water quality and that water used for drinking, medical and domestic purpose should be reasonably soft, colorless and odorless. Great efforts were made to test and analyze different types of water collected in different places in different seasons. It was this basic infrastructure, which served as the foundation for building large and powerful empires. World history, as indeed our own, is full with instances of rise and fall of empires and civilizations as a direct result of the strength or weakness in management of water resources.

As per the report of Meghalaya Public health Engineering department, the Satvahanas (1st Century B.C.-2nd Century A.D.) introduced the brick and ring wells. Lake and well irrigation was developed on a large scale during the time of Pandya, Chera and Chola dynasties in south India (1st-3rd Century A.D.) and large structures were built across Cauvery and Vaigai rivers. The Rajput dynasty (1000-1200 A.D.) promoted irrigation works in northern India. The 647 Bhopal lake was built under King Bhoja. In the Medieval period, Mohammad Bin Tughlaq (1325-1351 A.D.) encouraged the farmers to build their own rain water harvesting systems and wells. In 1615, during the Mughal rule, Abdul Rahim Khan built a unique water supply system of the Burhanpur town (Madhya Pradesh)[1].

The state built only the large storages essential for irrigation and water supply for the capital cities and important towns. These arrangements by the administration were obviously not enough and therefore the village communities and individuals were encouraged to build their own water harvesting strategy to meet their domestic requirement of water. The communities being closely knit had a strong culture of providing voluntary labor and material contributions for building infrastructure for common welfare. The social norms for civilized behavior, interalia, enjoined on the community members to maintain these facilities, conserve and protect water from pollution and ensure its equitable and fair distribution. Social scientists, historians and scholars have found that there is no problem of water scarcity where the community organizations are strong and the people

rely upon their own efforts to build water harvesting structures. On the other hand, the situation gets worse where the people depend entirely on the state for water. The wisdom of our fore fathers which made water management an integral part of human life guided communities through times of water scarcity. This meant that these practices were perceived by the common man as a sacred duty and by the communities as part of good local self-governance and social responsibility.

Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. suggests, the current and upcoming community based interventions under CSR and other development agencies should be driven by a vision of equitable distribution of resources for entire community. The mutual benefit of each household within the community should be clear and communicated with priority. The watershed projects should have behavior change tools mandatorily to bridge gaps within the community arising from caste and gender differences. The hidden employment schemes should also focus on community developed autonomously managed watershed units so that people of zero and marginal income groups also have a stake and feels accountable for the water resources. Water-Wisdom at all levels of society is essential not only to conserve water but to combat climate change and address sustainability of water resources at a global level and make fresh water available in abundance for future generations.

By Joyita Bhattacharya Pathak

Programme Team – Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd.

Resource: Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt. Ltd. is associated with Health organizations for their CSR activities across India.