Western Plains

The doer from the Thar
There are many unsung heroes amidst us who go about their good work silently. Chattar Singh is one such hero who has revived traditional water management system of the parched Jaisalmer villages. Manu Moudgil posted 4 years ago

“Can you see the alternating bands of light and shadow in the sky?” Chattar Singh asks me. When I nod in affirmation, he continues, “This is Mogh. There are clouds where the sun is setting right now. If we get a favourable wind, these clouds will reach here and we may get rain by night. In desert, people live by such clues from nature.”  

Despite all the great work, Chattar Singh's demeanour remains unassuming. Source: Farhad Contractor
A book every city needs
Jal Aur Samaj' takes the readers through the pond culture of Bikaner that nurtured its past and holds promise for its future. Manu Moudgil posted 4 years ago

A scarcity of something makes it special. That’s the reason why Rajasthan has always sanctified water much more than any other place in India. Low rainfall and saline groundwater turned people into great conservers who not only built beautiful and durable structures but also developed sustainable practices around them.

One of the ponds in Bikaner.
The desert that blooms
Rao Jodha Desert Park in Jodhpur is known for its varied flora. Its resilience and beauty make a walk in this park truly enjoyable. Manu Moudgil posted 4 years 4 months ago

Rain has just abated but the clouds are threatening to burst again. “Not a good time to visit, what with reducing light and imminent showers,” I tell myself. “Don’t worry, it would be a light drizzle, if at all,” the person at the ticket counter assures. My guide, Sachin, a young, stout man with a winning smile, arrives from a tea break armed with binoculars and a slim guide book.

The desert park in its full glory during monsoon.
Climate change: When past presents itself
A new study pins climate change as one of the reasons for the decline of Indus Valley Civilisation Manu Moudgil posted 4 years 6 months ago

Summers get hotter, rains decline and crops fail. The conflict between people increase and migration in search of better lands and skies begin. Sounds familiar? We are not talking about Marathwada here. This is how the lives of our ancestors played out thousands of years ago.

A narrow lane flanked by houses at Bhirrana. Source: Archaeological Survey of India
Water guards of Rajasthan
Taankas are trusted allies in the harsh weather of Rajasthan, but the focus is shifting now onto personal assets rather than community resources. Manu Moudgil posted 5 years 3 months ago

We were driving down the long desert road that runs parallel to the Indo-Pakistan border in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. There was little else to see except the surrounding sand dunes and desert grass.

A taanka in the Thar desert
Rajasthan's micro saviours need macro plans
North Rajasthan is making good use of subsidies for micro irrigation and solar water pumps but can this sustain? Manu Moudgil posted 5 years 4 months ago

As we leave behind the smooth, straight drive of NH 89 and take a dirt path that whirls around a few miles of undulating desert grassland, we end at a large patch of emerald green which looks outlandish. “The reason for such a spectacle in these harsh conditions lies close to the ground,” says Ravinder Chhabra, my local guide in Bikaner.

Farmer Sunil Bishnoi has seen a five times rise in income from his farm thanks to drip irrigation.
The big, blue spot in India's 'Golden City'
Ghadsisar pond in Jaisalmer holds many tales of dedication and love from an era gone by. It also symbolises how water was valued over caste and class. Manu Moudgil posted 5 years 9 months ago

Western Rajasthan is dotted by thousands of ponds, many of which are architectural wonders. Among these, Gadsisar (also called Gadisar) stands out. Besides its unparalleled expanse and architecture, the pond narrates tales of sacrifice, dedication and ingenuity but more importantly, it upholds water as being superior to any class and caste divide.

A view of the Ghadsisar
From wasteland to wonderland
Aravali Institute of Management in Jodhpur shows how high soil salinity, which eats into cement structures, can be dealt with through harvesting water and using native plant species. Manu Moudgil posted 6 years ago

As you drive from Jodhpur to Jaipur, the barren and desolate terrain underscores the harsh environment. The land is bleached due to high soil salinity, and there are no water sources in sight. This guarantees that there is no vegetation other than weeds like Israeli babool (akesia tortlis). 

Around 15 lakes helped deal with soil salinity
Food hub deserts water legacy
Only a few of Bikaner's over 100 ponds are well-maintained today, some thanks to the efforts of citizens, and another due to rooftop rainwater being channeled. Could the remaining get as lucky? Manu Moudgil posted 6 years 1 month ago

Water connects food and religion. Religious ceremonies often involve taking a dip in a water body, and any food or meal is incomplete without water. The same two things - food and religion - stand out in Bikaner. While hot kachoris and samosas line street stalls, Mata Karni Devi and Baba Ramdev (not the yoga guru) shower their blessings from billboards and wall paintings.

Harsholaav pond in Bikaner
Touched by very little water
Anupam Mishra talks about how the desert societies of Rajasthan have managed their scarce water resources for over 1000 years. Amita Bhaduri posted 7 years 5 months ago

Author and conservationist, Anupam Mishra has spent decades promoting water conservation and management. Through his travels across various states of India, he has been studying and teaching the time-tested techniques of rainwater harvesting.

Kunds and tankas have been used to collect water