Mohan Rao applies water management in the 1000 year old city of Hampi to cities today. His work was recently awarded by the United Nations.
1. Tell us a little about your Hampi project.
There are a series of trenches and percolation pits on hills that track rainwater and direct it into a particular direction. So, this system saturates the soil and the hillsides, allowing the water to percolate slowly.
2. How do you apply Hampi water management to modern cities?
Natural courses and terrain need to be mapped first.
3. Don’t dams offer a solution to irrigation and water problems?
Instead of one single large dam that eats away precious forests and displaces people, the very same result of water security can be achieved by a series of much smaller reservoirs. Such an approach is much more sustainable in both ecological and economic terms.
4. What were the traditional ways of rainwater harvesting used in the ancient times?
Depending on the location, amount of rainfall, lifestyle, cultural practices and so on, each of the traditional societies had developed their very own way to manage water.
People in desert like environments managed water underground through step wells (like in Rajasthan and Gujarat) to reduce evaporation while those along coastal deltas developed an extensive system of small reservoirs (like in Tamil Nadu). Villages in Ladakh even build artificial glaciers to store water during the summer months!
Many of the remote villages in the Thar Desert, the Rann of Kutch or the cold desert in Ladakh, even today depend on traditional ways of managing and storing water. Unfortunately, our modern planning and engineering methods does not recognize the value of these systems.
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