The Phad System

This study has been conducted to document the best of traditional innovative practices under the Jalswarajya Project – Local Self Government Incentive Scheme, a World Bank funded project for water and sanitation (June 2006). This study is designed to provide a firsthand authoritative knowledge of the social process and the underlying facts related to the water harvesting structures. The information produced would be used to refer as a future literature of the foremost operation and also to design the Training of the Trainers (TOT) Manual in capacity building of the Gram Panchayat, Zilla Parishad members and the Local Representative respectively in effective implementation of the Project through YASADHA.


Water has been an immemorial gift of nature to humankind. In ancient times, community settlements were mainly on the bank of rivers, where water could be easily provided for the sustenance of humans, animals as well as plants. Great civilisation of humankind existed along these bank of rivers such as the Great Nile, The Ganges, The Indus, The Tigris etc, this was the fundamental progression where the human societies and cultures flourished across the globe. Gradually, with the change in time, water was considered a produce, often resulting to a valuable commodity. Understanding the value of the scare resource, people learned various methods of optimum utilisation of the water through means of canals, diverting the water to settlements. In ancient Persia, the agricultural lands were watered through canals about 2500 years back.
[1] Such progressive knowledge of the farmers has turned most regions of the world into important crop producers. Sequelled the brown earth into green. They acquired the knowledge of boosting the crop yields and managing the system of water utilisation and distribution over decades. Thus, the evolution of life was realised with the availability of water.

The Science of Survival

Given the fact of major civilisation existed along the banks of river across the globe. Progressive farmers throughout the world realised the importance of irrigation. They adopted various types of irrigation method. As we are already aware, about the Indian Civilisation, which had taken place in the great belts of Ganges and Indus, concurrently people migrated along the banks of smaller perennial rivers in various regions and started their daily living. They had their own indigenous knowledge of irrigation, and the geo-spatial distribution of the region. Accordingly, the people living under various specific regions build water-harvesting structures along the river belts and had their own sense of managing these structures in a co-operative manner thus transforming to productivity oriented.

As stated by Gulhati, in Dr. Shinde.D.S (1988)
[2], Irrigation in many countries is an old act – as old as civilisation – but for the whole world it is a modern science – the science of survival. Likewise, the people living on the banks of Panzara River fall under the Kandesh Region had their own method of survival through building appropriate irrigation system, which has descended over centenaries. The method of irrigation system was through building structures commonly known as Bandharas – a low water diversion weirs in stone masonry, constructed at the main stream of the Panzara River. People living on the banks of the Panzara River had the expertise knowledge of diverting the water flow to their main field through canals for agriculture purpose known as Phad System. This system of effective irrigation is also observed in Nashik district. A detail case study of the Phad System existing at Dhule district of Maharashtra has been presented under various sub-titles listed below. Henceforth, over the period mentioned above, the skills of the Kandesh clan have turned out as a science of survival.
[1] Technology of Water Management, Dr. R.A.Raju, Agrobios (India), Jodhpur, 2004.
[2] Readings in Irrigated Farming, Dr.S.D.Shinde, Vishwani Publications, 1988.


The significance of the study was to document the best of traditional innovative practices under the Jalswarajya Project – Local Self Government Incentive Scheme. This study is designed to provide a firsthand authoritative knowledge of the social process and the underlying facts therein. The information produced would be used to refer as a future literature of the foremost operation and also to design the Training of the Trainers (TOT) Manual in capacity building of the Gram Panchayat, Zilla Parishad members and the Local Representative respectively in effective implementation of the Jalswarajya Project. The study focused in understanding the technical design, social milieu and its specific uses defined as per the best practices related with Phad System. The study also emphasised in exploring the historical evolution of the structure, its spatial specification related to the technology and cropping pattern. The pivotal point of the investigation was to refer the role of community in operation and maintenance of such traditional water harvesting structures.

To discover the facts and insights related with the objective of the study, there has been various methods simultaneously used for the effectiveness, thus representing it as a whole comprehensive study. The explorative and descriptive design was applied during the study process. Pertaining to the method, survey method was extensively implemented. Overall, method of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) was developed and improvised by the practitioner in the field for gathering facts. Time related PRA method was used to explore the dimensions of people’s realities with related to the water harvesting structure.

The universe of the study consisted of the total villages benefiting from Bandharas located at Panzara River. There were 30 Bandharas located at the river base. Each village consisted of one Bandhara. Taking into the consideration of the functioning of the Bandharas, they were classified into three components such as:
Bandharas from the upper reach of Panzara River,
Bandharas from the middle of Panzara River, and
Bandharas from the tail end of Panzara River.

Amongst the Bandharas of the upper reach of Panzara River, three Bandharas were considered for documenting the traditional practices, as these Bandharas were reported to have been working for about 4 – 8 months. In the middle of Panzara River only one Bandhara was considered for the study and two Bandharas from the lower reach of the river consisted the sampling size of the study, as these lower reach Bandharas has not been functioning for more than a decade.
Upper reach Bandharas
1. Dutondya Bandhara of Sakri Taluka.
2. Samoda Bandhara of Sakri Taluka
3. Kokla (Kokla and Gondas Bandhara) of Sakri Taluka
Middle Bandharas
1. Ner (Mana Bandhara) of Dhule Taluka.
Tail end Bandharas
1. Mudi (pd) (Mudi Bandhara) of Shindkheda Taluka.
2. Betawad (Betawad Bandhara) of Shindkheda Taluka.
The method used for gathering the facts and insights consisted mainly of convenient sampling. The study for documenting the traditional practices was mainly seeking to gather more accurate information from the rural aged who had once been the beneficiary of the structure or may have possessed historical information about the structure.

The techniques used for gathering of information
Under the Time related PRA Method, Time line, Trend Analysis and Daily Activity Schedule techniques was used with the communities benefiting from the structure.
In order to authenticate the data, Interview Schedule, and Focus Groups Discussion was utilised amongst the beneficiaries of the water harvesting structure at the village level.
While amongst the NGOs and Academics, Interview Guide was used to achieve the object of the study.

The total sample size for the study consist about 82 respondents, which includes the participants in focus group discussion, participants while conducting PRA activity, Interview Schedule and Interview Guide.

The Panzara River

A document published on traditional water harvesting system by Anil Agrawal et all, enlist as the first document to give details of the construction, where in, it states the reprint of the Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency: Khandesh published in 1880:

“The Bandharas must, at one time, have been very numerous. In the west, there is scarcely a stream of any size without traces of them. Tradition attributed their construction to the Musalman rulers. In many places foundation holes cut in the sheet rock are the only traces of former dams. Others are found in every stage of ruin, Some are still in use while others have been abandoned due to scarcity of water, silting and other causes. Here and there huge masses of overt turned masonry lying a few yards down the stream from the line of the weirs show the violence of occasional floods and excellence of the old cement. The sites of these dams were as a rule well chosen. Except a few, built straight across the stream, dams are more or less oblique, the watercourse issuing at the lower end. Where the rock below is not continuous, their forms are most irregular. In building a dam, holes were cut in the rock in the proposed line of the wall. In t he holes stone uprights, sometimes small pillars taken from the Hindu temples, were set and a dam was either built in front of these or the stones were built into the dam leaving only the backs of the uprights visible. The dams are strong, clumsy walls commonly sloping on both sides to a narrow top. The materials are commonly black stone, coarse concrete mixed with small pieces of bricks and the very best cement. Occasionally large blocks are found in the face of the wall but the inner stones are all small. Dressed stone is seldom used for either facing. Except some small openings at the middle or at the base, no provision seems to have been made for removing the silt. While the dams were built with greatest care, the watercourses were laid down with strict economy.”

With the same source, the authors hypothesise the existence of the structure to have existed since 300 – 400 years ago.

During the process of fa
ct finding and being with the villagers, the Chairman of a Water Committee of village Samoda Bandhara, obtained a traditional copy of a document, from the Vanshawali[2], Mothi Vahi no 2, Page no 191, reads Yabhua Patil constructed Samoda Bandhara in 1530 A.D. A copy of this document has been attached beside.

The chairman restate an anecdote supporting the document saying that there were two brothers who had migrated from River Mosam region, one stayed back at Kokla village and built the Kokla/Gondas Bandhara at the Panzara River, where as the other brother proceeded towards the upper reach of the river at Samoda village and the Bandhara. The chairman also felt, he belonged to the same clan of the person who built the Bandhara. Reflecting on the document, which the villager gave to the investigator, had a similar surname, and both belonged to the same Jerai Mali Community. The researcher uses the term Jerai Mali here so that it could be more specific and not to hurt the sentiment of the community. This was the field experience, when the term was used, the other member present along with the researcher belonged to the same community, and he disliked himself being called as Jerai Mali. It is important to note that, there is no inter-marriage relation amongst the community members because they consider themselves to descend from the same clan.

Similarly, using various methods of fact finding at village Kokla, the villagers report of the Bandhara to be constructed by Nawaje Patil in 1409 A.D.

As we move towards the middle base of river Panzara, the establishment date changes accordingly, for example at village Ner, the community report of the Bandhara being constructed in 1608 by Jerai Mali community. People contributed for the construction of the structure. While at the tail end of Panzara River the village community state the British Regime constructed the Bandhara.

Reflecting on the review of literatures, one often finds the probability of the Bandhara’s existence to be mentioning of 300 – 400 years ago. (Agrawal and Narain, 1997), (Datye and Patil, 1987). The case study of villages undertaken for their study, most belong to middle part of the river Panzara. As we reflect with our own data presented through various means, we find a trend of Bandharas being constructed from head to tail except for Bandhara at Samoda village, given the fact of separation of the family. They report the initial date of establishment of the first Bandhara could be in 1409, while the Bandhara of Samoda village was in 1530, whereas the middle of Panzara River, Ner Villagers report of 1608, and the tail end villages of Panzara River reveal to be constructed by the British Regime.

During the field visit, it was found that, the Bandharas which were laid at the upper and middle part of Panzara River were still functioning, which could be for any period between 4 to 8 months especially during the monsoon and at winter with the release of water by the Irrigation Department for Rabi cultivation of wheat. While the villagers from the tail end of Panzara River had not seen the Bandharas functioning for past 40 years due to lack of water available at the river, consequently with the absence of water at the Bandharas, may have restrain the community members from the quest of knowing it’s history.
[1] Taken from the Dying Wisdom, Traditional Water Harvesting Systems, edited by Anil Agarwal et all. CSE, 1997, New Delhi, Page 188.
[2] Vanshawali is a traditional clan book written by the head priest of the family. The book enumerates the list of activities performed by the family members during their respective period. Similarly, the Vanshawali of Jerai Mali community, the book mentions of Yabhua Patil constructing the Bandhara at Samoda Village.

The term Phad means a block of land used for irrigation purpose. Usually in one command area there were 3-5 Phads on an average. Each Phad has a name been given by the village community. The collection of Phads is known as Thal. The Phad receives water from the Bandhara diverted through the canal or Pat, as the main source of water flow. This Pat had various field distributaries known as sarang, which reach till the tail end of each Phad and the excess water is diverted back to the main river through Sandwa or the waste weir. Between each Phad, there are small opening called Bara, which is the main inlet where the water enters the field. The method of distribution of water through the gravity is generally done from one Phad to another. During the water distribution process, the Patkari/waterman use the field gate also known as Sasar for release of water at each phad. The Phad irrigators have laid conditions that, unless the first Phad is not supplied adequate water according to the crop grown; the second Phad does not get the change. During the process of water distribution, remaining Phads waiting for water release is blocked with the help of Sasar (field gate). Details explained in the sub-title - Cropping Pattern.

The Bandhara
Bandhara is a stone masonry built at the river base, and is usually curved in shape towards the upside of the river at an approximate height of 4 to 5 feet, like a horseshoe shape called Supada in local language or the Arch – shape. The foundation of the masonry rests on the hard rock available at the riverbed. The height of the Bandhara varies depending upon the slope of the river, gorge and the distance of the area to be irrigated. It is interesting to note that the layout of a Bandhara also depends upon the shape of the river as it flows downstream. For example if the river flow straight downstream, the shape of the Bandhara is in curved shape called Supada, else the engineering of the Bandhara is in straight line. On an average distance of water travelled from the Bandhara through the Pat (Main Canal) till it reaches the command area (Thal) is 4 – 5 kilometres. Locally this water is known as patache pani (water from the canal).

The Figure above explains the main layout of the Bandhara and its relation with the command area. The process of selecting the site for building the structure was carried out taking into consideration of the river base gradient and the slope of the command area. This was the natural process where the water could flow with its own gravity till it reached the main Thal (Command area). The river water was diverted from the Bandhara with excavating canals (Kalvas). At the side end of the Bandhara, there was a temporary storage place of the water, usually known as Khajana; the main function of the Khajana was to maintain the velocity of the water of the river.

At the bottom of the wall, each Bandhara had a small key opening, which functioned in removing the silt, sand and other particles that obstructed the water flow, also known as ‘Key Hole’. The scoring sluices were present on both ends of most Bandharas, performed similar function for removing silt, sand during the floods. The excess water at the Bandhara were removed with the help of scoring sluices and over flowing above the arch-shaped wall. There was no controlling mechanism present at the Bandhara to prevent the water flow. The scoring sluices has an approximate width of 1 to 1.5 m

The Bandhara had a provision for accumulation of water at the side end of the weir known as Khajana or reservoir. The Khajana had an opening or a gate like structure for regulating the flow of water into the main canal. The mechanism of controlling the water flow was known as saucer. The saucer had a provision of inserting a wooden plank from the top of the wall. Adjoining to the saucer, there was a canal like structure, which connected to the head of the canal. In between these structures there were scoring sluices to perform as a regulating mechanism of water flow and cleaning the area of Khajana from silting and accumulation of sand. With the series of Bandharas constructed at Panzara River, the types of saucers have also changed. It is estimated there were about 45 such structure (Bandharas) at Panzara River.

The height of the Diversion Weir was selected in such manner that the excess water from the river was automatically removed with the help of scoring sluices. The water required for irrigation purpose was diverted into the main canal, with the provision of scoring sluices in between the head of the canal and the saucer. The head of the canal had no provision of gate; the saucer and the scoring sluices present between the diversion weir and the head of the canal regulated the water flow.

The length and size of the canals varied amongst the Bandharas depending upon the size of the Phad and the distance of water travelled from the site selected for the diversion of water through the weir. The reason for the variation of size and length of the canal was to maintain the velocity of water so that the water could flow at its own gravity till it reached the main command area or the Thal.

The method of building the canal was through banking and cutting depending upon the topography. There were scoring sluices also provided at different places as per the length of the canal. This worked as an automated cleaning device for the drainage of sand and silt. The average water discharge from the canal is 7 – 10 Cubic feet/sec (cusecs).

After the Government notified the river in the 70’s, the Irrigation department imposed tax, and provided iron gates at the scoring sluices. The provision of iron gates was used as a stopper to maintain the diversion of water. While with the traditional practices these scoring sluices worked as a mechanical technique for equitable water distribution amongst all the Bandharas at river Panzara. There has been some minor repair work been done by the Irrigation department at the Bandhara. Like wise, the height of some Bandhara at upper reach of Panzara River has been increased by 3 – 5 inches.

On an average each Phad had an approximate size from 5 – 10 ha to 20 – 35 ha. Each Phad grows only one crop. The landholdings may vary in numbers but the crop grown is similar. Which means in one Phad there could be many landowners having smallholdings, are practising similar cropping pattern as compared with the major landholders. At the Phad, there are landmarks indicating the size of the land holding. The distribution of water in each Phad is from the head to tail end.

The Farm Management

At the village level, the landlords from the Phad had their say in the water meeting which normally decided the cropping pattern for every season, based on previous year’s experiences. The consent of landless from the village community was not taken at the committee meetings.

Instead, most of these landless were given opportunity to work as a Patkari (waterman), Hawaldar (supervisor) and Jakleya (watchman); their role was to maintain the Sarangs, Sasars, Kalvas and also looked after the crops and the fair distribution of the water.

During the meeting the Patkari, Hawaldar and Jakleya were to report to the Chairman of the managing committee (Panch - member of five Committee) about the misuse of water by the farmer or if any vandalism existed with the common property. These designations of the landless labourers were of hereditary position. Though on an individual level, the person appointed was required to perform his role as a devoted and sincere person, else the position could be passed on to the other family associated with the similar socio-economic conditions.

Usually a general meeting was held in the month of April – May (‘Akshayya Tritya’) where a public announcement was made for community management of the water harvesting structure. Each family had to provide a pair of bullocks and 3 men for a day to maintain the system, and the family who were not able to provide the announcement had to pay Rs. 30 for the bullock and Rs 10 for 3 men.

The process of mobilising the village farmers for the meeting was normally through a key person of the village who is often known as the Kotwal. The Kotwals’ had a special role at the village level; they were the first person to disseminate the information to the villagers. The usual method of the Kotwal disseminating information was through cupping the mouth. The job performed at the village level amongst the Kotwals’ was a hereditary one. The Kotwal got his share from the Phad after every village water committee meetings.

The Panch committee also known as Pani Purvata Committee given the responsibility for making decision related to water distribution and assigning roles and responsibilities to Patkaris, Hawaldar and the Jakleyas for maintenance and operation of the water harvesting structure. This Panch committee had no written rules in place; decisions were made on experience basis.

The working Bandharas, in the upper reach of the Panzara River, usually held village water meetings before or after every harvest period. The villagers benefiting from the tail end Bandharas of Panzara River have not held any such meeting for the past 40 years.

The Method of Equitable Distribution of Reward

The Patkaris, Hawaldars and Jakleyas were remunerated a fixed amount. The farmers had different methods of measuring the remuneration for the services provided by the responsible mentioned above. The amount payable for the service was both in kind and cash for example kind for food grains and cash for cash crops.

In the upper reach of Panzara River, the Patkari, Hawaldar and Jakleya was paid in terms of Champa (local measuring unit), where each Champa would include of 3.5 Kg of food grain. Like wise each Patkari was given 3 Champas for irrigating 1 Acre of land at the Phad. This was the main measuring unit for remuneration of service delivery, but the terms may vary according to the villages.

It is also found that with the differences of cropping pattern at the Thal, if any cash crop grown, the Patkari, Hawaldar and the Jakleya were paid in cash. For example, earlier 4 Annas (16 Annas is equal to one Rupee) were paid for 1 acre of land, whereas today, a Patkari is paid Rs 20 for 1 acre of land.

Some villages used a rope that consist a length of 6 – 7 feet to encircle the crop; the amount of crop, which came within the rope, was an entitlement of one acre of the season’s yield from the Phad. The Patkari and the Hawaldar were remunerated with the help of the rope and both had similar share of the harvest from the Phad.

Changing Nexus of Traditional Local Institutions

The Patkari, Hawaldar, and the Jakleya who belong to the same village community, ensured every Phad got a fare share of water, there was better and timely maintenance of the main canal, and all the crops at the Phad were protected from the wild animals, but today they have been replaced by the Water Inspector appointed by the Irrigation Department. The Inspector appointed, is entrust to collect water fees from all the villages, it is his role to timely release water at the Phad, he is also responsible to inform the Irrigation Department about the maintenance of the Bandharas.

The water committee, consisting of Patkari, Hawaldar and the Jakleya were almost institutionalised in the earlier days. They got their fare share from the Phad for the services delivered. Still today, we find this institution amongst the Bandharas of upper and middle part of the Panzara River to be working. With the enactment of the Inam Abolition Act (1955), the community defined roles and responsibility have not changed except for few villages at the tail end of Panzara River, the Patkaris were given land and became a government employee, who till date receives pension from the government.

Cropping Pattern

It is often believed amongst the farming community, during the years of plentiful water at the Panzara River, the cropping pattern varied from one Phad to another. The principal crop grown at the Phad was paddy. But as the need for more varieties of crop increased, people started growing different crops. Like stated earlier, each Phad had a one single type of crop, similarly different crops was grown in different Phads. Water was provided according to the need of the crop grown.

The main command areas was locally known as Bagayat/Thal or the assured area of irrigation system and similarly there was also an extended area know as Jirayat, or the unassured area. The Jirayat land received water only in years of plentiful water flow at the Panzara River. This land had no regulation in cropping pattern or water distribution. Each farmer practiced individual cropping pattern and was not related to the Phad system.

If drought like situations continued for several years, all Phad got equal share of water and kept the remaining Phads unused, this was done on a rotation basis. This method of water distribution system amongst the landowners reflects of co-operative farming been existed with the traditional water harvesting structure for more than 600 years now. For example in years of plentiful water, the functional community decides to grow sugarcane in the three Phads and millet in one. But in a year of average rain the farmers would grow two Phads of sugarcane and two of millet. In a bad year they allowed sugarcane in only one Phad, grow millet in two and kept one fellow. Keeping the Phad fellow was also done on rotation basis, because all farmers had some share of land at the main command area, thus maintaining an equitable water distribution and farming system. The institutions created under the umbrella of irrigators managed this system. Unfortunately today, with the lack of availability of water over the prolonged period, the Phads have been remaining fellow for a very long period.

Like wise with the lack of available of water in the Phad, the daily intake of food has been changed. During the period of better functioning of the Bandhara, it was not essential to travel to marketplace for purchase of daily food. Vegetables like Cucumber, Ladyfinger, were grown at the village. Today villagers frequently travel to market place for purchasing every little items required for the daily meal except few grown at the Phad such as the Maize, Bajra, and Wheat.

Withering Science

With the construction of Lattipada Dam, two Bandharas have been submerged completely. Similar Minor Irrigation Project is under construction at Akkalpada. Unfortunately this project has not been completed for the past 25 years due to local political groups involved in manipulating their constituency. The working of the Akkalpada Dam would submerge three villages, Sayyadnagar, Nashimar and Tamsawadi.

The Bandharas, mostly on the upper reach of Panzara River, the usual height of the Bandharas have been increased by the Irrigation Department, the scoring sluices have been replaced with iron gates and importantly the pockets holes placed at the centre of the Bandhara has been closed, this had caused the Bandharas to be filled with sand up to the height, there is no space at the wall for the water to be reserved for diversion.

Before the notification of the river, the farmers paid water cess (Pankasar) to the Revenue Department for cultivation. After the notification of the river, the Irrigation Department took over the Bandharas, and labelled them as 1st Class Irrigation, they imposed tax for water usage. The Irrigation Department imposed separate tax on the water released after the construction of the Lattipada and Jamkhedi dam. As most of the water was reserved at these dams, water was not available for irrigation; the villagers were compelled to use the Dam water, paying a separate fee for the release. This was how the villagers of the upper reach of the river were bound to pay the water tax. Though paying the double tax to the Irrigation and Revenue Department respectively, it was always unsure of water being released from the dam, especially during the Rabi Cultivation.

The villagers of upper reach usual sowed the wheat seed only during the month of November and the harvest was in February for which, the crop required two water releases. Unfortunately, the Irrigation Department always released water during the month of October and the other in January, the practice of water release by the Irrigation Department was early for a better harvest of the crop, as a result the villagers required another water supply in the month of February for which they again had to pay another water fee for the same crop.

Today the intensity of the rain has remained the same but the no. of days of rainfall has reduced. The water of Panzara River is reserved for the urban dwellers at Dhule City, leaving the lower reach of the river ran dry soon after the monsoon period.

With the lack of availability of water, the farmers had been compelled to dig wells at the river basin. The villages on the lower reach of the Panzara River have dug well at the Phad itself, though the norms of Phad System does not permit to do so, the villagers have been compelled, due to lack of water. Thus, farmers have switch over to other methods of irrigation than following the traditional practices; urbanisation has contributed for the unaccountability of water supply.

Thus, the Phad system, which is a collective farming system, with the rising of individual wells, the collective management of the Phad has collapsed. Downstream of the river at Mudi and Betawad Bandhara, there is total breakdown of the Phad System. Individual farmers are irrigating the land with their own wells and those who do not have a well just practice rain fed agriculture. As rightly said by Narain,
[1] that cities in India must manage their water resources if rural India is to survive and the answer lies in both traditional wisdom and modern technology.
[1] Statement quoted by Maxine Olson, UNDP and United Nations resident coordinator, India, article published in Indian Express dated 20th June 2006.


Unfortunately, modern science values have posed a threat to the indigenous system. The community-managed system is fading way with the lack of water available; people who used to grow the staple food have substituted with the cash crops for maximisation of the yield for better economic gains. The poignant aspect of this trend is that people have not yet realised under the neo-liberal policies, the slow and steady always wins the race.[1]
[1] Here I mean the term conscientisation referred by Paulo Freire, where people need to enrol in the search of self –affirmation and avoid fanaticism of the neo-liberal policies.

The community managed Phad farming system has adopted an individual managed farming. The Rich farmers have found their own method of irrigation by digging wells at the Phad, while the small and marginal farmers are left on the mercy of nature. Such relinquishment of farming due to lack of resources to draw water and dependence on the nature has caused most land to remain barren. This has consequently reduced the value of the land. Similarly, the lack of rain and the water reserved for urban drinking purpose has contributed the landless with no employment at the village level. This has pushed the rural population to migrate for better life at the urban centres especially to the cities of the neighbouring state (Gujarat). The youths have been unable to receive better education as their parents are in debts. The repercussion of such incidence due to lack of water at Panzara River has increased the incidence of alcoholism. The joint family system has been broken down due to inadequate resources to feed all family members at a time. More over the values of modernised irrigation system has destroyed the flora and fauna of Panzara River Base such as with the construction of dams, the river water has been reserved at the upper reach leaving the middle and lower reach to run dry almost around the year.

Henceforth, the question remains, whether replication of such indigenous practice is a viable option in a modern welfare state such as India, where structural adjustment and neo-liberalisation policies have compelled the state to shift its policies, the burden of payment from taxpayer to beneficiaries.

Another instance which has been clearly marked in the document above, the water committee body were constituted mainly by the large landholding farmers and decision making was a top-down process, reviving of such practices under Jalswarajya Project – World Bank, Water and Sanitation project which talks about state retreat from provision of infrastructure and promote the discourse of decentralisation, people’s participation and empowerment and also adhere more closely to the neo-liberal agenda of structural adjustment, minimal taxation and ‘small government’ is a hypothetical situation, reflecting on the social realities related with traditional water management system and the growing capitalistic economy.


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