Surangas-for fuel free water harvesting

Moderators: admin, kmoksha, sumit

Post Reply
Posts: 593
Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:49 pm

Surangas-for fuel free water harvesting

Post by kmoksha » Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:10 am

A 'Gurukula' for surangas

79-year-old Achyutha Bhat brought surangas to Manila village in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. His passion for the water caves - which help tap and supply water - and his commitment to training newcomers in suranga-digging has been a boost for local farmers, reports Shree Padre.

26 February 2008 - Like surangas, the man-made tunnels for water, this 79-year-old Karnataka farmer, who has half centuries attachment for surangas is lesser known outside. It was Manimoole Achyutha Bhat, an arecanut farmer's family that brought this traditional water harvesting system to this village Manila in Dakshina Kannada district. Thanks to this system, today including Bhat, many neighbouring farmers have no water shortage.

Achyutha Bhat's family had nearly 20 surangas dug in their property. Fourteen out of this are still serving them. Surangas provide them water not only for irrigation, but for drinking and domestic purposes too. What's more, they don't have to spend a single paisa for diesel or electricity to get this water. All the water is free flowing - in the sense they flow due to gravitational pull.

In the 15-acre barren hill slope the family got decades ago, five acres containing arecanut and coconut gardens stands today, courtesy these surangas. No other water body like open well is feasible here because of the slope and soil type. "If and when we foresee some water scarcity," explains son Govinda Bhat, 51, "we go for one more suranga."

Achyutha Bhat has a passion for surangas that began at childhood. Pic: Shree Padre.

"They dig one suranga each year", is how the villagers talk about Manimoole. Though this is exaggeration, points out a smiling Achyutha Bhat, "After my marriage at 21, four consecutive years might not have passed without us getting a suranga dug."

Manimoole is an area of the village, and there are about 20 houses here belonging to farmers and farm labourers. All have surangas that yield good water. For most of these, Achyutha Bhat might have divined water.

As the land is sloping, cultivating is possible only by leveling plots at different heights. What Bhat's do is a much planned, decentralised system of irrigation. Before leveling a plot, they dig out a suranga at least 25 feet above that. Once they strike water, the plot levelling goes on. The water oozing out of the suranga is collected in an earthen tank and irrigation done by mist jets. Thus they ensure pump less irrigation to all their plots. They have six water tanks today. A few out of these are inter-connected too.

Their old house was at a lower level to which a suranga was catering water earlier. After they constructed the present new house, the force from old suranga was not enough to supply water to the house. As such, they went higher up and dug a suranga there. Today, starting from kitchen, to all the water taps in and out the houses, this suranga at the highest elevation supplies ever fresh water.

"Fortunately, we are blessed with water within 50 kolu (one kolu means 2.5 feet) if we dig suranga after careful divining," Govinda Bhat says proudly. His calculation is simple. "For a 50 kolu suranga, we need Rs.15,000 as per present wage rate. But once we spend that, there is no worry thereafter. No recurring expenditure. Needn't bring diesel nor we have to bear with the long power cuts."

Achyutha Bhat was fascinated by this water harvesting structure since his childhood. It was in the nearby village Padre where he was learning Sanskrit he first saw a suranga. His father who was frequenting the Sanskrit pathshala too was so impressed that they wanted to go for one. So, when Achyutha Bhat's was aged 10, the Malayalee moplahs from Kerala were brought to dig the first suranga of the village. By seeing the process of digging, this family learnt its intricacies. Thereafter there was no looking back.

"If the banks start giving loans for this purpose, there would be more takers. Why can't they finance this traditional, proven sustainable system than financing bore wells that aren't dependable?"

In most of the cases, the farmer's dig surangas in their own land. Yet times - very rarely - it might go beneath the neighbour's land like a metro train line. At present suranga digging does not need permission from the panchayat or any other body.

Obsessed with surangas

Achyutha Bhat was attracted to surangas for many reasons. First, it would provide ever flowing water. Second, since the water flows out of gravity no other energy or fuel is required. Step by step, he mastered all the departments of suranga digging like water divining, going on digging with a small gradient, bringing the dug lose soil out, sensing danger while digging, changing the direction of the suranga, if needed to obtain water or more water etc.

According to an estimate, today Manila village would be having more than 300 surangas. It has a total of 480 houses. Says Govinda Bhat, "At least half of the houses have at least one suranga for their drinking water purpose."

"Digging surangas is not such a skill that can't be learnt by anybody. With hard working nature and has the necessary common sense, anybody can for that matter," reassures Achyutha Bhat. Interestingly he doesn't entrust the suranga digging to professionals. Each time he wants to, he gets it done by their regular ordinary workers by giving them incentives. This way, in the last half century, at least two dozens of farm labourers have learnt the art of digging surangas here.

Manimoole can be very well described as a 'gurukula for surangas.' "Of course, those who learn the skill from here have been called to dig more and more surangas from the nearby farmers," says Govinda Bhat.


Added to that, Achyutha Bhat has gained the capacity to identify the points for digging surangas. How does he do that? "Generally, I look out for water indicator trees such as dhoopada mara (Vateria indica) , basari mara (Ficus virens), etc. Even the fast growing uppalige mara (Macranga indica) is an indicator. Termite hills on a row is another indication," he says.

Starting from sixties - since then the digging of surangas increased in Manila - though he hasn't kept count, he must have located points for at least 100 surangas. Recalls he, "A few out of this like Aithu Naika who were planning to sell property thinking that there is no water have got water."

Transporting dug-out soil in a hand pulled trolley . Pic: Shree Padre.

At 79, Achyutha Bhat is still very active. Laughs Govinda Bhat, "he has this habit of entering the suranga after the labourers have left and digging for half an hour. His enthusiasm to look out for water can't be dampened. Even if we start a new suranga tomorrow, I'm sure; he will physically join hands with workers once a while."

Adds he: "In these days of expensive and scarce labour, for a coconut from our lowermost plot to come up to the house, we have to spend 50 paise. It is easy to be fed up by this and to sell this property to search our luck in other locations. But where can we get adequate amount of free flowing water till summer end?"

Dying skill

Of late, digging of surangas is on decline in hand counts of villages where this was in practice earlier. Reasons are many. First is the introduction of bore well machines that dig a well in a single day. Numbers of skilled workers who can dig surangas are decreasing. They get better remuneration in other works like in new rubber plantations. There is risk in suranga digging. Though rare, injury or death by collapsing of surangas while digging has happened in past. Yet in Manila and neighbouring Bayaru village of Kerala, it has not completely reached to grinding halt. Once in a while a suranga is dug here and there.

Govinda Bhat is optimistic. He doesn't think that the skill of digging surangas would die in near future. "So far as those interested in getting surangas dug are there, it won't die. It won't die for the want of diggers," he confides.

Interestingly, half of the houses in the village have a hill on the back or front. This is a pretty ideal situation for surangas. Achyutha Bhat feels that there is still scope to dig more surangas in the village. "If the banks start giving loans for this purpose, there would be more takers. Why can't they finance this traditional, proven sustainable system than financing bore wells that aren't dependable?" he asks. In Manila, though there are about 200 bore wells, according to Govinda Bhat, only about a dozen are yielding water.

Achyutha Bhat who brought surangas to Manila has not only been instrumental in extending it to the whole village, he has also kept the tradition alive for decades by training many newcomers. ⊕

Shree Padre
26 Feb 2008

Achyutha Bhat's phone: +91-8255-237 115

Shree Padre is a journalist with many years of experience in agricultural reporting. He is the author of several books, including one on rainwater harvesting, published by Altermedia.

Posts: 593
Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:49 pm

Re: Surangas-for fuel free water harvesting

Post by kmoksha » Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:20 pm

IN PICTURES - Surangas, manmade caves to tap underground water.

A new Suranga being excavated in village Padre. Pic: Shree Padre.

2 March 2006: The western ghats region is not one that has any dearth of rainfall, and yet there many areas with considerable water scarcity. Kasaragod district in Kerala, for instance, enjoys an annual rainfall of 3500 mm -- this is 14 million litres (1.4 crore) of rainwater falling on an acre of land. Still, one block in Kasaragod is designated as a black zone. In this region, a traditional water extracting system called suranga - man-made caves for water -- has survived the test of time.

Running water from the suranga (see opening on the slope) comes in handy for drinking and washing vessels.

Surangas tap groundwater by intercepting the water table in the area. The water is further carried through a downward slope on the floor of the cave, lowering towards the suranga's mouth. Water flows out without the help of a pump, and this is an advantage of surangas. To escape crab menace, sometimes pipes are used in the front portion of the suranga. The surangas in this region supply very clean 'running' water! Though most of them are used for drinking water, some irrigation is also done.

During the rainy season, water-flow is higher. In many cases, except where suranga water is directly picked up for drinking, water is collected in an earthen storage tank. From the tank, farmers open the sluices to irrigate their gardens (gravity) and also use sprinkler jets or drip.

Generally, a suranga is dug at the back of a hill. It's by intelligent guessing that villagers select the location. On occasions, they go wrong too. But generally, they don't use instruments like 'Y' forks or other water divining aids to guess the water source.

How do people decide to dig a suranga and not a well? Both structures tap underground water. Much depends on the topography in which one lives in. Surangas are natural selections in hilly terrain and sloppy areas. They are excavated horizontally either across a hillock or from under the depth of an existing well. People living downhill can dig a suranga and let gravity bring the water out. People living on hilltops cannot go in for a suranga because there is no hill portion or sloping land above their level.

Dug out soil being transported out. At the far end is the mouth of suranga where the water will flow out. This suranga, already 150 feet in length, is yet to strike water. The light beam is sun-rays reflected from a mirror from outside. Additionally, candle light is also used. The dead-end of the suranga where further digging will go on is behind the spot from where the picture was taken.

Cost is a factor too. Digging a new well usually involves higher costs due to the need for labour. Surangas on the other hand can be dug by just two people, like a father-son combination or two brothers during spare time or at night. If poor farmers or farm-labourers do not have access to hilly slopes above their house, they may dig a suranga a few feet below their house and carry water up.

The attractive colour of the suranga walls comes from the laterite soil. The walls have an ornamental texture. A pick-axe is the main tool used for digging surangas and it is the pick-axe marks that create the texture on the walls. The length of a suranga is measured in kolu. One kolu is 2.5 feet. There are surangas that stretch upto 150 kolu (375 feet).

Surangas are suitable only where there are hard laterite soils. This way they don't get filled or crumble. Also, they remain relatively insulated from higher temperatures. Even in the hot month of May, it feels like an air-conditioned chamber inside. The water is usually cold. In some surangas, the water source dries up in the summer months or dwindles.

Surangas are similar, but not identical to the qanats of Iran. Qanats tap underground water too, but are they are tunnels, open at both ends. Qanats connect a series of wells to supply the water. Surangas intercept ground water directly and do not rely on a well.

Unlike check-dams, surangas are not community structures. A family may have one or two or even six surangas.

Irrigation tank fed by suranga water in Padre village, Kasargod.

Padre village, which has around 900 houses, would have around 2000 such structures in use, at an average of 2 surangas per family. There is a wide variation in the numbers. About about 200 families have 4-6 surangas, while others have only one or two. There are very few families have none. My home, for instance, taps water through three surangas.

In Bayaru village, about 40 kms from Kasargod district headquarters, there may be far more surangas. By one 'guestimate', 40% of that village's irrigation requirement is met by surangas. On the whole, Kasaragod district may be having at least 6000-7000 surangas.

Though the art of suranga-digging is dying out, a handful of professional diggers are based in villages like Bayaru, Padre (Kasargod) and Manila (Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka). In-depth scientific studies and documentation of this rural engineering skill has not been done so far.

Shree Padre
2 Mar 2006

Shree Padre is a journalist with many years of experience in agricultural reporting. He is the author of several books, including one on rainwater harvesting, published by Altermedia.

Posts: 593
Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:49 pm

Re: Surangas-for fuel free water harvesting

Post by kmoksha » Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:22 pm

Don't dig down

In a twist to the usual practice of digging deep bore wells in search of water, Mohammad decided to try scouring for water horizontally. His success at this unusual method has earned him the nickname 'adda-bore', and many satisfied clients. Shree Padre reports.

20 April 2006 - Mohammad is an auto driver in Vittal, a small town in Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka. Each summer, as the mercury rises to its highest levels, he can be found inside wells. It's his unique profession of digging tube-wells that takes him inside dug wells.

This started way back in 1986. In 1983, there was an unprecedented drought all around. Mohammad was impressed by surangas, the man-made caves that have served as water-harvesting structures for long. A man-sized cave is painstakingly dug, and finally the water oozes out from only one or two tiny eyes. Mohammad used to dream about simplifying this process, with a simple twist to that approach; "why can't we dig a miniature suranga, by pushing a pipe into the soil?" This, if successful, would be far cheaper and faster than the suranga. After much thought, he designed a drilling bit, and by joining small pieces of galvanized iron pipes started piercing the soil. And lo, it worked!

The team puts a horizontal tube well in place. Picture by Shree Padre.

Since then, drilling tube-wells has become a part-time profession for him. Come March, he starts receiving calls from farmers. Generally it takes only one day to dig one or two tube-wells. In the morning, his 4-member team arrives with the necessary equipment in his auto rickshaw, and gets to work. But quite unlike the usual machine-driven vertical bore well that pierces the underground rocky layer and sucks water from deeper aquifers, he starts digging nearly horizontally! This odd technique has proved quite successful, so much so that today, he is better known as adda bore. ('adda', in Kannada, means horizontal) This nick-name of his adorns not only his auto rickshaw, but his visiting cards too.

More often than not, Mohammad's services are required inside a dug-well when the latter is drying up. Generally, he makes an advance visit to the site. This visit has two purposes - to ascertain the possibility of finding water, and to check the practicality of digging a horizontal tube well. Some practical problems cannot be overcome, and the advance visit is to rule those out. For example, if the dug well has knee-deep mud at its bottom, the work of drilling the tube well can't go on. Another potential problem is size; dug wells must be at least eight feet in diameter, or the work area for his drilling will be inadequate.

Once inside the dug-well, the team fixes up the drilling equipment at waist level. Initially, a 4 inch drilling bit is fixed to a 5 feet GI pipe. A detachable handle is fitted to this apparatus to provide a better grip. Within the GI pipe is another half-inch pipe, through which water is directed inwards for drilling. Once the entire apparatus it properly set, the drilling begins. For the water to flow out freely, there must be a small gradient to the structure.

Drilling is not easy. The team has to manually push and pull the drilling unit. Loosened soil gets mixed with the water sent inside and comes out through the hole of the bigger pipe. Once the first 5-feet pipe is almost pushed into place, another piece is fitted to its rear end, lengthening the horizontal tube. The process is repeated until the water is found.

If hard rock comes in the way, the drilling stops. At best, the horizontal tube can go up to 80 feet. Since the drilling charges are affordable, sometimes two, three or even four tube-wells are dug from within a single dug-well. If the client is fortunate, they will find water in all of these. According to Mohammad, "though these water veins are located so close to each other, they aren't usually inter-connected". The water flows vary from a pencil thickness to that of a thumb. To avoid blockage of the water source due to crumbling of soil inside, a perforated PVC pipe is introduced into the hole once the entire horizontal tube length has been dug.

Once the first 5-feet pipe is almost pushed into place, another piece is fitted to its rear end, lengthening the horizontal tube. The process is repeated until the water is found.

Usually, the motor that is already fitted to the dug-well can be used to also lift water flowing from these new tube-wells. In a typical vertical tube well, one has to invariably buy a submersible motor and many bundles of pipes. To draw water from a newly-dug vertical irrigation bore well, a minimum investment of Rs.50,000 is necessary - including drilling expenses, the cost of the motor and pipes, and expenditure on getting a power connection. Compared to that, even if 2-3 adda bores are dug in an open well, only a tenth of that expenditure - Rs.5,000 - is needed. At such low costs, all sorts of things can be attempted. Mohammad has dug adda bore wells even in deep dug-wells of 60 to 75 feet. On a handful of occassions, he has dug such wells across a hill, just like a suranga. Another service he provides is to connect the water flow between two adjoining open wells.

Though Mohammad hasn't kept count, he thinks he would have dug more than 1000 horizontal bore wells in the last two decades. "Failure rates are low", he claims. His advance visits to scout the dug-well for the likelihood of finding water have been very useful; his past experience gives him a pretty good indication of his chances. "Generally, the existence of sweat-like moisture inside the well is an indication of availability of water. Still, there have been cases where despite having no hope that we would find water nearby, I was asked to try my luck. Most of those cases turned into failures."

Mohammad was charging Rs.3 per foot for his bore well when he started this profession two decades ago. Now he charges Rs.35. All other incidental expenditures are extra. Whenever he has no orders, he runs his auto. As he does once the monsoon sets in by June; the heavy rains spell curtains for Mohammad's drilling work for that year.
V S Ganesh Rai is a farmer near Vittal whose water source, an earthen tank is indicative of the step by step decline of water in the last half century."This is a place that till recently was considered blessed with ample water", he points out. During most of his father's time the lands around were paddy fields. The tank water was more than sufficient. Three decades ago, his father raised beetel nut, which requires profuse irrigation for six months a year. To meet the water requirement, they dug a well inside the tank. As the years passed, this became insufficient. They had to deepen the well and put in cement rings. But even this has not been enough; in last two years, the water crisis has raised its ugly head again.

Looking at the experiences of others around him, Ganesh Rai was convinced that vertical bore wells were not permanent solutions for water shortages. He opted for a horizontal bore well. Mohammad's team dug three tube wells in three directions. Each one has a water source of about a cigarette's thickness.

Adda bore Mohammad with his other means of livelihood - the auto-rickshaw. Picture by Shree Padre

Many small farmers have benefited from this water harvesting technique. A water source of 3 inches that he tapped in Gopalakrishna Pailoor's farm years ago, recalls Mohammad, was the best so far. This year, at Vokkeththoor, in Ramanna Shettigar's farm, he tapped another big source - 2 inches in diameter. Wherever groundwater is at higher levels, this type of tube well will likely hit water fairly easily, as in most of Malnad, with its heavy rainfall. Unfortunately, Mohammad's is the only team that is pursuing this profession. So far, nobody has learned these skills from him. "Many people ask so many questions, show interest", Mohammad points out, "but I think it is the inability to identify the water point that keeps them away".

Adda bores are far more sustainable than their vertical counterpart. A good chunk of vertical bore wells have dried up the open wells and tanks in the neighborhood. Since horizontal bore wells usually draw water only from the top layer of the soil, they will attract water from the neighboring one acre area or so. If one adopts groundwater recharge measures in the catchment area, adda bores will last long, just like open wells.

Working at depth his team can sometimes be at risk of running short of oxygen. Mohammad has a few interesting methods to tackle this; he arranges to pour some water from the top 4-5 times in a day, or a lighted paper is let down, or a few wigs of plants are tied to a long stick and waved around. The exact science of such attempts isn't something he dwells on, but he's confident that "such exercises promote air circulation and we don't feel suffocated". Over the years, Mohammad has carried out his own Research and Development with his equipment too. Initially, the tube well was of 2 inch diameter. Now it is double the width. The design of the drilling bit too has been improved. Couldn't some machine come to his aid? "Many times I have thought about this. But it may not work. We can't afford to a machine that emits smoke inside a dug-well. It will risk our lives."

And so he carries on, with a little fix here and a litte retooling there. And along the way, thanks to his innovations, hundreds of farmers have been able to overcome their water shortages. But for his technology, they would have had vertical tube wells dug, paying huge sums in risky attempts to find the life-giving water; worse still, they would have lowered the ground-water table over time. Instead, with Mohammad's help they have a harvester they can afford, and the comfort in knowing that they're not hurting their long-term water prospects. "I have no regrets for the Rs.5,000 I have spent", a smiling Rai was heard saying at the end of the day Mohammad's team finished its work on his farm. ⊕

Shree Padre
20 Apr 2006

Shree Padre is a journalist with many years of experience in agricultural reporting. He is the author of several books, including one on rainwater harvesting, published by Altermedia.

Posts: 593
Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:49 pm

Re: Surangas-for fuel free water harvesting

Post by kmoksha » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:45 am

The unique water tunnel of Sheni

This 250 metre-long suranga, situated by the side of a school in Kasargod, Kerala resembles the famed Iranian water system - the qanat - more than its other counterparts in the district. Shree Padre reports on its passing out from regular use.

18 January 2009 - A ninety year old suranga at Sheni, 35 kilometres from Kasaragod, quite distinct from others, might be of interest to historians and researchers. Being used until the last season, it had served both as a suranga and an open-well.

Surangas are traditional horizontal man-made caves for water. Kasaragod district in Kerala has an estimated 6,000 surangas out of which majority are still in use for drinking water and irrigation.

The land belongs to the local high school headmaster Ravindranath Nayak's family. He is standing inside the almost century old suranga. Pic: Shree Padre.

Unfortunately, no information is available about the history of Kasaragod surangas. They resemble qanats of Iran. While qanats are thousands of years old, surangas don't seem to have their origin before one or two hundred years ago.

The qanat, according to some researchers, is an extensively Iranian invention since 7th century BC and it later spread to other parts of the world. In Iran, there are about 50,000 qanats today. Although many of them have damaged as a result of drilling of deep wells over the years, a great number of qanats are still use throughout the country. City of Tehran got its water supply from qanats till recently. The combined length of these qanat systems is 272,000 kms. The longest one is in Gonabad district in Khorasan province and stretches to 70 kms!

The structure of a qanat is as if a series of tiny open wells are interconnected by a horizontal tunnel below. Points out researcher Mohammad Baqer Liyaqati of Iran, "By drilling a chain of wells at equal intervals from the foothills of the mountains to the plains below and by connecting them below the surface, they built these subterranean canals. His technique, although it appears simple, was an engineering feat of those days when people did not have modern machinery. It was simply their ingenuity and keen sense that helped them exploit water resources with the help of simple tools." Qanats are present in Afghanistan and China as well. In China they are called as Karez.

More like a qanat

The suranga at Sheni, approximately 250 metre long suranga, situated by the side of Shri Sharadamba High School resembles the qanats more than its other counterparts in the district. While digging very long surangas, it was practice to dig tiny well like structures starting from inside the suranga and opening at the top of the hill surface. These structures, called air vents helped in two ways. For one, they provided fresh air for the suranga diggers to breathe and continue their work. Secondly, they provided them some extra sunlight from outside. A very small number of Kasaragod surangas have such air vents.

One can get down to suranga or go up to the surface through these steps. Pic: Shree Padre.

The Sheni suranga has seven such vents, a few of them have served as open wells as well. Anybody who sees the land surface here won't believe that just twenty feet below, a plentiful water source could be there. The topsoil is a black coloured hard laterite cap that is extremely difficult to dig out with a pick-axe. This land belongs to the headmaster S Ravindranath Nayak's family. According to Ravindranath, his late grandfather Linganna Nayak had had this suranga dug 90 years ago, when the latter was 16, for irrigating the betel nut gardens.

Apart from providing water for irrigation, in good old decades, this was the only drinking water source in this surrounding. About 30 families were drawing water with the help of a pulley and rope from the 'wells' emanating from the surangas. Recalls S A Abdullah, 53, "When I was young, even in summer, water equal to a coconut tree stem was flowing in this suranga."

Local people call all these vents as wells only. Each well has a protective wall constructed with rough stones. Water was being drawn from three wells, of course, with the permission on Nayaks. These families must be drawing around 10,000 litres a day from these wells. Even after that, it used to provide water for irrigation. That much water resource in a suranga is pretty rare.

Extraordinary skill

Instead of straightaway diverting the run-off water, it could be filtered and fed to a newly constructed percolation well nearby. This will help maintain the water in the suranga and its cleanliness too.

One can easily walk inside the suranga from the open end. Since it is very close to the school premises, cricket ball falling into these wells is of common occurrence. "As such, many of our students who learn here enter the suranga at one time or the other though we admonish them not to do so", points out a teacher.

The intriguing aspect here is the reason for digging seven vents. It appears that they did so to easily take out the dug out soil outside. Surrounding each well, one could make out traces of fresh soil that once seemed to have been heaped upon here. Some of the wells have small dug out steps in their walls. These would permit skilled persons to get down to the suranga through these steps and vice-versa.

More interesting is how they could so faultlessly align the suranga and wells in one row? Did they start digging the wells first and latter interconnected them through the suranga or whether the suranga was dug first? If suranga as dug initially, from where did they start the work of the well? If from the top, how exactly did they pinpoint the location of the two feet wide suranga below without any mistake? Of course, digging upwards from inside the suranga seems o be another possibility. But that is easier said than done! No doubt, the illiterate labourers of that time had a special skill or engineering wisdom that is lost with the passing time.

This well connecting the sub-surface suranga was used till recently. Pic: Shree Padre.

With the changing water scenario, this suranga is slowly being relegated to history. Realizing that the water table is going down, Nayaks had had bore well dug about 7-8 years ago. Now that bore well caters to their irrigation requirements. Government bore wells and hand pumps have also come to the village.

Even now though, the suranga has water. A few families are taking that water in a pipe for their drinking water needs. After the arrival of bore wells, run off from the nearby area is diverted into the suranga with the help of a trench. As a result, all filth, plastic waste, etc., into this water body. This deterioration has stopped the handful of families from drawing water from the suranga well. They too have started using bore well water now.

Instead of straightaway diverting the run-off water, it could be filtered and fed to a newly constructed percolation well nearby. This will maintain good water source in the suranga and its cleanliness too.

For the moment though, students studying in the local high school get to know more about this traditional water body, sometimes because of their escaping cricket ball or though their neighbours. This is good in itself. The Sheni suranga deserves to be maintained and developed as an example of our ancestors' rare engineering feat. ⊕

Shree Padre
18 January 2009

Shree Padre is a journalist with many years of experience in agricultural reporting. He is the author of several books, including one on rainwater harvesting, published by Altermedia.

Contact: Ravindranath Nayak can be contacted at this cell number: 098469 65309.

Post Reply

Return to “पर्यावरण, वानिकी, स्वच्छ ऊर्जा मुद्दों पर चर्चा - Environment, Forests, Clean Energy issues related Discussion Board”