Here is a brief account of the unique water conservation systems prevalent in India and the communities who have practised them for decades before the debate on climate change even existed.
Jhalaras are typically rectangular-shaped stepwells that have tiered steps on three or four sides.
Constructed in an area with naturally high elevation on three sides, a storage pit is made by excavating the area, and excavated soil is used to create a wall on the fourth side.
Sometimes, several johads are interconnected through deep channels, with a single outlet opening into a river or stream nearby.
Water conservation is a key element of any strategy that aims to alleviate the water scarcity crisis in India.
With rainfall patterns changing almost every year, the Indian government has started looking at means to revive the traditional systems of water harvesting in the country.These stepwells collect the subterranean seepage of an upstream reservoir or a lake.Jhalaras were built to ensure easy and regular supply of water for religious rites, royal ceremonies and community use.The city of Jodhpur has eight jhalaras, the oldest being the Mahamandir Jhalara that dates back to 1660 AD.Talabs are reservoirs that store water for household consumption and drinking purposes. Bawaris are unique stepwells that were once a part of the ancient networks of water storage in the cities of Rajasthan.A Taanka is a cylindrical paved underground pit into which rainwater from rooftops, courtyards or artificially prepared catchments flows.Once completely filled, the water stored in a taanka can last throughout the dry season and is sufficient for a family of 5-6 members.To minimise water loss through evaporation, a series of layered steps were built around the reservoirs to narrow and deepen the wells.Taanka is a traditional rainwater harvesting technique indigenous to the Thar desert region of Rajasthan.Paddy cultivation in this relatively low rainfall area depends mostly on ahar pynes.Johads, one of the oldest systems used to conserve and recharge ground water, are small earthen check dams that capture and store rainwater.