|Johads, India twitter.com|
|Johad, water storage, India. .alamy.com|
A johad does have the following advantages: 01. It checks the run off rain water, 02. It holds the water in one place and promotes downward percolation through the soil, 03. It recharges the acquirers (vast sand formations that hold water) below the ground and can reach roughly one kilometre around, 04. This way nearby wells get enough water that can meet the water needs in the summer. 05. With sufficient water, irrigation is possible and the villagers can raise wheat, mustard and beans, 06. The crescent shaped check dam has a dual function - at the surface it holds water for the livestock and right below like an iceberg the soil-filtered, percolated and stored water is safely protected from loss due to evaporation.
The beneficiaries of ancient water structures are not only humans, but also seasonal migrant birds, as well as wildlife animals from near by jungle/bani. Johads are put to use by the State fisheries departments promotion of commercial fisheries. Johads are set in such a way, they are often surrounded by embankment, with water well and trees around them. They go by different names - sarovar, taal and talab (roughly equal to ponds or lakes). In Alwar and other districts of Rajasthan the rain fall is less than 600 mm /year and the water can be unpleasant to drink. Being arid to semi arid region, the SW Monsoon in June to August does not bring in enough water. Thanks to Dr. Rajendra Prasad and the voluntary organization Tarun Bharat Sangh, they revived and rejuvenated more than 4500 johads in Rajasthan that resulted in the manifold increase of ground water storage. The state of Haryana's Water body Management Board manages more than 14000 ponds besides development of 60 lakes in Delhi NCR to cater to the water needs of the people.
The central government with a view to solving future water scarcity in 2019 gave due importance to Atal Bhujal Yojana (Atal groundwater scheme). It is a 5 years (2020-21 to 2024-25) water project and the estimated cost is INR 6 billion (US$85 million) and it will be done at the village panchayat level to encourage revival of wetland and recharge of the ground water sources. For this purpose chosen are 8,350 water-stressed villages across 7 states, including Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
|Design of water johads. Source: Anupma Sharma, National Inst. of Hydrology. notechmagazine.com|
It must be borne in mind that water johads are terrain -specific technologies and cannot necessarily be replicated to other geographical locations or climates. What is appropriate in one location may be unfit in another region. Knowledge of geomorphology of the region and terrain contour is the foremost criterion. Johads commonly requite steady sloping land—where each one can feed water into another downstream in a a rainy season and the recharged reservoirs serve well during the dry months.
Johads are far more cost-effective than high-tech dams are; the latter may cost a huge sum of money besides, displacing the lives of a million plus people in the catchment areas. Such simple johads do not get the serious attention of the state governments for regular maintenance. The village communities come together and develop skills in water management and periodically maintain the Johads in use in their respective areas. This way villagers can reduce the water stress in their region to a great extent. Johads can revive and rejuvenate the dying aquifers in that region.