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Jammu and Kashmir

A look at traditional harvesting techniques across the country.

india Updated: May 19, 2003 15:28 IST

These are water wheels used in the Kashmir valley from time immemorial. References to it can be seen in Kalhana's Rajtarangini (composed in the 12th century AD). Water from the river Jhelum is lifted with the help of these wheels to the irrigation canals. Kashmir valley has known the use of canals from antiquity.

The Suvarnamanikulya canal (today called Sunmanikaul) dates back to the time of King Suvarna and is of great antiquity. Kashmir valley has always faced floods. Kunds or ponds are also found in the valley. To this day, there are villages such as Utsa-Kundal and Mara Kundal which get their names from such kunds.

In the Jammu region this is a regular phenomenon. The practice of channelising river water into circular ponds called kunds is a standard practice.

In the mountainous terrains of Ladakh water is scanty and hence the need to harvest it. It gets an annual rainfall of only 140 mm. For potable water and purposes of irrigation, hill streams are the only source. Ladakhis have developed a form of storage called a zing.

Diversion channels divert water from melting glacial streams to a small tank. The water gets stored of a whole day and is used for irrigation the next day. To ensure equitable distribution of this water, villagers elect a water official called churpun. On the basis of how much land a farmer holds he distributes the water.

First Published: May 08, 2003 12:56 IST