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Jalyatra: Exploring India's Traditional Water Management Systems

-By Nitya Jacob

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Book Summary

‘In spite of surplus water, and one of the world’s richest traditions of managing it, India’s water crisis has reached critical levels.’ Water shortage and the poor quality of water available for human consumption and agricultural purposes are problems that plague urban as well as rural India. This, according to Nitya Jacob, is because inherited knowledge regarding traditional methods of managing and maintaining water resources has been consistently ignored. Travelling the length and breadth of the country to examine traditional structures and systems of water use, the author looks at water harvesting structures of southern India—the eris and ooranis—and the gharaats, the river-run flour mills of Uttaranchal. In Chambal, he meets Brij Mohan Gujjar, dacoit turned water conservationist, who is doing valuable work on the check dams designed to control the flow of water in the ravines; and in Shillong, Lan Potham shows him the uses of the easily available bamboo to construct the shyngiar which irrigates his areca nut plantation. Each system, Jacob finds, takes into account the lay of the land, available raw material, as well as the social structure and make-up of the area it serves. Thus the springs of Uttaranchal, important for water supply and social interaction, are also accurate indexes of the caste lines along which the society using them is divided. The upper castes use the water nearest the source. The author also notes that in most places, modernization of water supply and management systems, which may range from plastic pipes that have replaced the more malleable bamboo for the shyngiar to inefficient dams, has not succeeded. Insightful, extensively researched and well argued, Jalyatra: Exploring India’s Traditional Water Management Systems is important for a more comprehensive understanding of traditional practices in the management of our resources. It also makes the important point that new, improved ways of doing things may not always be the best. short..

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Book Details
ISBN-13 9780143104131
Publisher Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd
Imprint Penguin Books India
Number of Pages 280
Publication Date 01032008
Language English
Binding Paperback