[Reader-list] * Request for info on traditional water management techniques in India *

Sarang Shidore sarang at flomerics.com
Fri Aug 22 15:31:18 IST 2003

We at AID Austin have a group that is trying to learn more about 
water issues in India. Ultimately we want to understand how water as 
a precious national resource can be sourced, purified, distributed, 
and recycled in a way that is both efficient and fair. For example, 
we are trying to understand the recent moves in India to privatize 
water sources themselves, such as rivers and lakes, typically to 
major corporations. A small river in Maharashtra has already been 
sold to the private sector. The claim is that this will result in a 
more efficient use of water, and lead to more investment in better 
quality water supply. The critiques range from a total opposition to 
entry of private sector into basic necessities ("free goods") like 
water, to a mixed public-private approach with strong regulatory 

I want to better understand how water was tapped and used in ancient 
and medieval India. I believe this is an important piece that is 
often under-emphasized. Evolution can teach us many lessons useful 
for designing modern solutions. There appears to have been reasonable 
self-sufficiency in water in much of Indian history until the late 
colonial era. Traditional India apparently used small, localized but 
highly effective water harvesting techniques. But the economics of 
this is especially unclear to me. If anyone has 
sources/articles/papers etc providing info about such traditional 
approaches (both technology and economics), please let me know.


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