A model for rainwater harvesting in Karnataka - the Melukote system- an article from Waternama

The article presents communities effort to harvest rainwater in Mandya district, Karnataka
21 May 2009
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A model for rainwater harvesting- the Melukote system

This article describes the Melukote system, a model for rainwater harvesting in Karnataka. In Karnataka, sacred places and pilgrimage centres do not mean only fulfilling a vow or worship to God. Each of the temples carries a social, and, more importantly, an environmental message as well. This can be experienced whenever people visit any of the hill temples of Karnataka. Apart from offering prayers to the deity, the devotees also follow eco-friendly measures and appreciate the intrinsic value of these practices.

A classic case of environmental concern is evident in the temple town of Melukote in Pandavpura Taluk, Mandya district which is an outstanding example of rainwater harvesting techniques. Melukote clearly demonstrates that water harvesting is not a new concept and has been in practice for over hundreds of years. The primary principle of rainwater harvesting is to arrest the flow of water in a way to make the earth absorb rain water. In Melukote, this principle has been very simply and effectively brought into use. It, therefore, serves as a role model for water experts who formulate water development schemes.

Melukote has been described as the abode of 108 ponds. The ponds have been constructed at different levels and at different locations to collect the rainwater that falls on the mountain slopes. The design of the ponds in Melukote is in a manner that retains every drop of water that falls, and allows it to percolate into the soil. Hence, there are a large number of small ponds in addition to the large ones. The biggest tank is at the base of the mountain.

Apart from rainwater harvesting in hundreds of ponds, care is also taken to ensure that once the water is filled in the tank, it is not dirtied or wasted. Furthermore, all the tanks on the mountain are interconnected through stone pipelines, which facilitate flow of water from one tank to another. Another unique feature is the filter pits outside each tank. The water flows into two filter pits before entering at the Melkote tank. These filters collect dry leaves, sticks and other bodies, thereby supplying only pure water to the tanks. Steps taken to filter water at different levels are a special feature of this place.

The article ends by arguing that, in today’s situation of water scarcity, the ponds of Melukote are an outstanding example of rainwater harvesting and management. There is a lesson to be learnt from this for our water planners, if only they are willing to learn. Read more

Also view other articles from the book Waternama.


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