Traditional wells to be revived in desert areas to fight water crisis

Published on May 20, 2019 12:47 PM IST
Barmer district collector Himanshu Gupta said traditional water bodies will be revived under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act).
People depend on traditional water bodies in west Rajasthan to get drinking water.(HT Photo)
People depend on traditional water bodies in west Rajasthan to get drinking water.(HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, Barmer | ByMukesh Mathrani

The Rajasthan government plans to revive traditional water bodies to fight drinking water crisis in drought-affected areas, officials said. In the absence of adequate monsoon rain, people have been depending on traditional water bodies in remote desert areas of western Rajasthan.

Barmer district collector Himanshu Gupta said traditional water bodies will be revived under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act). “We have identified 1,790 ‘beries’ in the district for the purpose.”

A ‘beri’ is a traditional percolation well that stores rainwater. It is essentially a pitcher-shaped shallow well, about half a metre wide at the top and three to four metres wide at the bottom. Percolated rainwater gets channelised towards the well.

Gupta said presently 432 ‘beries’ are being used by people as drinking water sources. “We have prepared a work plan to revive ‘beries’ under MGNREGA. Under the first phase, 1,000 ‘beries’ will be revived,” he said.

“For decades these water bodies have been supporting the drinking water need of the people living in remote desert areas. Revival of these water bodies will be beneficial to people. Under the revival plan, deposited sand in beris will be dug up. We will ensure proper structure on the top so that women can smoothly fetch water in buckets.”

Gupta said he had directed block development officials to send proposals at the earliest, so that work could be started.

Lata Katchwah, joint secretary of SURE, a non-profit organisation, said, “Beris are economically viable for the people of the desert region.” Katchwah has helped build ‘beris’ in many villages in Barmer to make people self-reliant on drinking water.

“Sweet water is found at shallow depths. These water bodies get recharged during night time and water can be fetched during early morning,” she said. “It is good that government understands that for centuries people in this part have met their drinking water need with the help of these traditional water bodies. Revival of the traditional water bodies will make people self-reliant in getting drinking water.”

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