The state government's investments in supplying potable water under the Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran (MJP) scheme which envisaged a no tanker supply' end to the scheme is critiqued. The authors note that the project mainly concentrated on asset creation, neglecting operation and maintenance resulting in limited improvement in villages, with respect to water supply.
Promises of water supply do not materialise and the micro level planning of such schemes at the village level which requires local participation is absent resulting in failures. There is thus a need to revise such schemes and make them less capital intensive and easy to operate and maintain.
It is in this context, that the authors highlight traditional water management techniques. Examples of an underground rainwater harvesting structure constructed in 1710 in Ainy in Ratnagiri district and the construction of talab/ponds for a population of 150 are provided. The usefulness of tree plantation and use of recharge wells is highlighted.
These ancient techniques can be adapted to modern needs. In many part of Raigad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts, the people face scarcity of water from March to June. The pipe water supply becomes less important to villagers, because of availability of precipitation from June to September and natural storage from September to December. The authors suggest that construction of village ponds in such areas, through traditional methodologies should be immediately adopted.
Summing up their arguments, the authors state that it is possible to adopt traditional methods even today, if proper planning and design is done by local self-governments.
This paper was presented at the National Seminar on Water and Culture organised by Kannada University and Sahayoga in 2007.
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