This article describes the Jotte system of extraction of water. Traditionally used in areca-nut plantations in Uttara Kannada, Jottes are an intelligent devise which uses local material and human labour to lift water from wells and tanks. The Jotte system ensures not just economical extraction of water from the wells and tanks, but also guarantees maximum and effective utilisation of the water available. Over the years unfortunately, this system has fallen into disuse.
The jotte system depends solely on human labour. It requires understanding, skill and fine expertise in managing the amount of water that is drawn out and how it is used. The quantity of water to be lifted to irrigate a particular portion of the field is carefully calculated and worked out before the operations start. Yet, careful management ensures that neither is there any shortage of water for the fields. Thus, the word shortage carried no meaning in places where this system was used.
The jotte system ensured that not a drop of water is wasted. As the water is lifted from the tank with human labour, the groundwater level is never touched. The jotte system does not deplete the groundwater level. Instead, only the surface water of the tank is utilized. Even after water is lifted from the tank and it appears to be empty, it fills up again the next morning, due to the rainwater which was always directed to the tank.
The articles argues that these practices are passing into local memory today. Given the change in the practices, it is likely that people have forgotten how to string the jotte. The change is also evident in the use of the vessels used in this system. Once regarded as the basic utility item of every family in Uttara Kannada, these are seldom seen today. In some cases, these have now been moved into the loft, while in others cases, people have converted the copper jotte into household utensils. Most unfortunate is the case of others who have sold off the traditional pots.
The jotte system, which was once an inseparable part of the cultivation practices among the areca-nut growers of Uttara Kannada District is now a rare practice, and worse still, a disappearing practice. Today the system of drawing water using jottes has almost disappeared. As a chain reaction, nobody cares for the tank.
As the tanks become extinct, the canals also dried up and have died a natural death, ending the entire process of water retention. The artice argues that attention needs to be given to revive these age old traditional systems of water retention today.
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