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The first chapter of this book: Traditional Water Harvesting : A Multi-millenial Mission examines how water has been harvested in India since antiquity. Comprising an extraordinary richness and diversity of technologies, this tradition has sustained human growth and survival over millenia. This chapter puts together the evidence of a multi-millenial mission, as found in ancient texts, inscriptions, local folkways and mores, and archaeological remains. The second chapter is entitled: Traditional Water Harvesting Systems : A Trove of Technology and Traditions. This chapter describes the different types of water harvesting systems. It is divided into 15 sections, each describing the systems of a particular ecological region of the country. Water harvesting clearly emerges as a practice related to local community needs and sensitive to local ecological demands. The third chapter is entitled: From Community Control to State Supremacy : The Rise and fall of Water Harvesting and describes how Indian villages functioned like relatively autonomous socio-political entities and played an important role in managing their resources. The local nobility, ordinary people and even temples were encouraged to invest in water harvesting structures. Customs and institutions existed to allocate water and maintain systems. Cost-sharing procedures ensured that water harvesting generated it's own surplus. The British administration changed all this. Set on increasing government coffers, they destroyed the financial resource base of the Indian villages and hence the internal capacity to manage natural resources. Agriculture and incomes declined to the point that India became a nation chronically affected by famines. The fourth chapter is entitled: Water Harvesting : Waiting for Wisdom to make its Way, and presents the case for the revival of local water harvesting systems. Dams, canals and piped water have clearly failed to meet the nation's irrigation and drinking water needs. In this context, the enormous potential of decentralised modes of managing water needs to be highlighted. The chapter records attempts being made to revive local systems and reviews attendant problems. The publication ends with: A Statement of Shared Concern. This recommends strategies for the revival of local harvesting systems.

TitleDying wisdom : rise, fall and potential of India's traditional water harvesting systems
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsAgarwal, A., Narain, S.
Secondary TitleState of India's environment ; a citizens' report
Volumeno. 4
Pagination404 p. : fig., ill., photogr., tab.
Date Published1997-01-01
PublisherCentre for Science and Environment
Place PublishedNew Delhi, India
Abstract

The first chapter of this book: Traditional Water Harvesting : A Multi-millenial Mission examines how water has been harvested in India since antiquity. Comprising an extraordinary richness and diversity of technologies, this tradition has sustained human growth and survival over millenia. This chapter puts together the evidence of a multi-millenial mission, as found in ancient texts, inscriptions, local folkways and mores, and archaeological remains. The second chapter is entitled: Traditional Water Harvesting Systems : A Trove of Technology and Traditions. This chapter describes the different types of water harvesting systems. It is divided into 15 sections, each describing the systems of a particular ecological region of the country. Water harvesting clearly emerges as a practice related to local community needs and sensitive to local ecological demands. The third chapter is entitled: From Community Control to State Supremacy : The Rise and fall of Water Harvesting and describes how Indian villages functioned like relatively autonomous socio-political entities and played an important role in managing their resources. The local nobility, ordinary people and even temples were encouraged to invest in water harvesting structures. Customs and institutions existed to allocate water and maintain systems. Cost-sharing procedures ensured that water harvesting generated it's own surplus. The British administration changed all this. Set on increasing government coffers, they destroyed the financial resource base of the Indian villages and hence the internal capacity to manage natural resources. Agriculture and incomes declined to the point that India became a nation chronically affected by famines. The fourth chapter is entitled: Water Harvesting : Waiting for Wisdom to make its Way, and presents the case for the revival of local water harvesting systems. Dams, canals and piped water have clearly failed to meet the nation's irrigation and drinking water needs. In this context, the enormous potential of decentralised modes of managing water needs to be highlighted. The chapter records attempts being made to revive local systems and reviews attendant problems. The publication ends with: A Statement of Shared Concern. This recommends strategies for the revival of local harvesting systems.

NotesIncludes references and glossary
Custom 1822, 213.1
Original PublicationMaking water everybody's business : practice and policy of water harvesting

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