Water harvesting for restoration
Restoration of monuments is not usually associated with water harvesting. So when the gardens of the Humayun?s Tomb were revitalised recently after the completion of India?s largest water harvesting project, it made headlines.india Updated: May 08, 2003 23:00 IST
Restoration of monuments is not usually associated with water harvesting. So when the gardens of the sixteenth century Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi were revitalised recently after the completion of India’s largest water harvesting project, it made headlines.
Conception of project:The project conceived as part of the golden jubilee celebrations of India’s independence in 1997, has involved the rejuvenating of water channels from various sources to keep the architectural sanctity of the site as it was during the Mughal times.
However matching the past was easier said than done, especially as the groundwater table was way below the required level. Overuse, especially in the last few decades, had depleted the water table considerably.
So to get the water channels running again, the first task involved rejuvenating the water channels. Work on the project started in 2001 and was completed only in April this year.
Work undertaken: Done at cost of $ 650,000, the project has involved removal of 12,000m3of Earth, replanting of 12 acres of lawn, the creation of 128 ground water recharge pits, the planning and installation of a new water circulation system of walkway channels among other changes. The fountains have been refilled with water and a rainwater harvesting system has been put in place.
There were some wells in the garden that dried up and had fallen to ruin due to years of neglect, including wells dating back to the sixteenth century. Repair on these was carried out after some paintings dating back to the late nineteenth century were discovered and followed. Five wells were desilted and the entire irrigation pattern of the site reworked. The only modern addition is a water pump for a water recycling station.
About 2,500 trees have been planted in 12 hectares of the Tomb’s lawns since the renovation work started. And the aim has been to plant the trees to conform to the customs and patterns of the Mughal times.
Changes in British era: Interestingly Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India between 1899 and 1905, had ordered the restoration of the monument and the gardens. he also some new water channels put in, which have now been cut off as they did not conform to the Mughal layout of the channels, which followed the gravity pattern.
Not only is the refurbishing of the entire area a significant step in the restoration of old monuments and gardens, what makes it even more special is that the the groundwater levels in the area have significantly risen. Thesuccessful use of the various water harvesting structuresmeans that not only is the monument not going to putadded pressure on the neighbourhood in terms of water needs, it is adding to the water availability.