Tenda, a traditional system to draw water from open wells that is still practiced even today in Chattisgarh and Odisha

Atmaram Sidar of Patrapara is watering his potato field. Just couple of days back he had harvested his paddy. Now he is preparing his land for potato cultivation. His wife and son Ganesh are helping him. Waif is sowing seeds and Ganesh is digging channels for watering. Atamaram is drawing water from well. He is using a tenda to reduce his labor and water his field efficiently.

Tenda is a traditional system utilized for drawing water from the open wells. It functions on the simple principles of lever. Till today it is popular in Chhattisgarh and remote villages of Odisha, and rarely founds in eastern parts of Maharashtra in Chandrapur and Gadchiroli. Tenda is much efficient than the traditional pulley-and-rope system (or windlasses).

Earlier it was popular in the whole of central India. In northern Bihar it was known as Dekul or Latha. Modern energy based pump and diesel engines have replaced them all long back and started threatening us with depleted ground-water level.

Day by day the groundwater levels are going down. It is real concern for a country where more than 60% of agriculture water comes from aquifers. We need to learn from our traditional water management systems.

Using tenda is laborious but it puts a cap on over exploitation. One can use only whatever is available. It maintains the groundwater level. It neither requires large capital investment nor do you need to pay huge electricity bills or for diesel. Water tables are available equally to all. It works on a simple principle - the more you conserve, the more you will get.

It is sustainable usage of ground water in true sense!