Tapping our tradition

Concerted efforts have been launched to promote traditional water harvesting systems in the desert area of Kutch in Gujarat. Abdasa Development Forum, Saurashtra Trust, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sanga-than, Janvikas, Gandhi-dham Cham-ber of Commerce, Viveka-nand Training and Research Institute and a number of other NGOs from Kutch alongwith Kutch Mitra , the largest (Gujarati) daily of Kutch, organised 10 meetings all over the region recently. The meetings attracted large enthusiastic crowds. The emphasis in all these meetings was to learn the lessons from traditional water harvesting systems of Kutch and other arid areas of Rajasthan. Among those who joined this campaign were local politicians.

At each meeting, discussions were preceded by slide shows and lectures by Anupam Mishra, the well-known proponent of tradi-tional water harvesting from the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi.Mishra warned that if we want to survive, we cannot afford to destroy our traditional know-ledge and water systems deve-loped over centuries and embrace imported systems. He said that if Kutch adopts rainwater harvesting methods, it is not impossible to solve the problem of water scar-city in the region.

Y D Singh of the Kutch-based Institute of Desert Ecology, emphasised that Kutch cannot adopt water-intensive industries or agriculture. Kutch Mitra 's editorial noted that the tradition of creating tanks, which was prevalent in Kutch in olden times, has been forgotten and following the introduction of pumps and tubewells, even the existing water bodies were getting destroyed. It said that a number of farm ponds, underground check-dams and rainwater harvesting systems were needed in the region at the earliest. Six meetings have also been held in Bombay this month as part of the campaign.