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Adivasi Water Harvesting System in the Jungle Mahals, Eastern India: An Alternative Idea for Sustainable Future


· Nirmal Mahato University of Gour Banga (Malda, W.B.,India, India)


07/28 | 15:30-15:50 UTC+2/CEST


This paper intends to project the Adivasis(indigenous and tribal people of India) water management in the Jungle Mahals, Eastern India, as an alternative idea in the recent water debates. The Adivasi people had arguably developed their rich knowledge in hydrological management and engineering, dealing with their survey of topography, natural water resources, digging of ponds and nullahs(small channels), raising of embankments, arrest soil erosion and siltation of ponds(bandh). A hydraulic society was developed where water management was closely related to their life and livelihood, social classes, irrigation and agriculture and resource utilization. For the Adivasis, waterscapes may embody living entities, ritual hubs and medium to the ancient mythic world. These people not only conserved the water but also considered the ponds as venerable social relatives with some spiritual qualities, which was reflected in the tattoos drawn on their skin. Thus those ponds became integrated component of their noosphere. Their experience of the water management advocates ethical values that helped them to regulate interactions with their natural environment. Adivasi ways of rain water harvesting accelerated landscape heterogeneity as they planted trees on the banks of the bandh and created an environment to grow an ecosystem around it. The traditional knowledge of the Adivasis has its own significance because of its ecological rational- it’s inspirational being the sustainable use of ecosystem in which it had developed.