Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ancient wisdom, resurrected.

If the planet dries up, how can living beings survive? Not unnaturally the issue of water conservation has been given much thought since many millenia ago.

Rainwater harvesting is an ancient wisdom dating back to as early as 3000 BC. Advanced rainwater harvesting systems have been mentioned in the Vedas and the Puranas of Ancient India, and in Buddhist and Jain scriptures. Kautilya’s Arthasastra, written around 300 BC, is a politico-administrative treatise that has been compared to Machiavelli’s The Prince. This has beautifully outlined the value of water and how the prosperity of the kingdom, its crops, people and animals is closely related to water, along with details of water-management techniques.

Rainwater harvesting is essentially a community/people-based activity. There is not much any Government can do without the backing of the masses. The essence of rainwater harvesting is collecting and storing it as it falls. It involves little expense and at the basic level, only involves directing rainwater to wells and tanks, with easy filtering mechanisms, and making strategic holes in the ground to recharge the ground water. In Chennai, where I live, we cannot pay our taxes if we have not harvested rainwater in our home.

The communities of Bhaonta-Kolyala and Hamirpura, inhabitants of an utterly degraded region in the Alwar District of Rajasthan mobilized themselves to harvest water, resulting in rivers being resurrected and turning perennial. Check out China, Sri Lanka or Thailand and you will find people harvesting rainwater for sustenance. It is an ancient wisdom cutting across national boundaries… a simple but tested panacea for the future.

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