This article sheds light on some of the unusual, but fascinating water conservation practices of Malnad region in Karnataka. The Malnad region is home to hundreds of stories on water harvesting with each one being different and more interesting than the other.
About 35 years ago, the Shiliga tribe of Uttara Kannada District built an embankment on the Dabbehalla tank at Sirsi. About 125 feet in length and eight feet in height, this structure stands erect even today and ensures availability of water all through the year. Constructed using local material, it is strong enough to withstand the onslaught of rainwater during the torrential monsoons. At the same time, there have been instances in recent years where dams built using concrete and iron have been reduced to rubble during heavy rainfall. Such dysfunctional concrete constructions erected by the Government costing lakhs of rupees can still be found in almost every village.
The article describes some of these traditional water conservation methods used in Malad. The article argues that historical evidence has recorded that water conservation is not new to Malnad. In fact, it has been in existence for over 1,600 years. In the inscriptions and records of the travellers, there are many success stories of water welfare. However, all these water conservation traditions undertaken with people’s participation fall on deaf ears in the cacophony created by speeches, governmental circulars, popular programs and subsidy schemes.
The author through this article directs atention to these traditional water conservation techniques in Karnataka and argues for the need to pay attention to these techniques and for the revival of these techniques. Read more
Also view other articles from the book Waternama.