Sunday 23 April 2017 News Updated at 08:04 AM IST
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For a water-secure future - Deccan Herald
For a water-secure future
Chandrakanth Masani,
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Water flow to the 'pushkarini' at Guru Nanak Jhira Sahib in Bidar has increased after the 'karez' was desilted. PHOTO by Gurupadappa sirsi
An ancient water harnessing technology has helped Bidar maintain its water table even in the times of severe drought. The three-kilometre long underground water supply channel that resembles the Iranian karez structures is said to be constructed here during the reign of Bahmani sultans.

Its unique design helps the karez tap the surface springs that ooze water even in summer. Bidar’s karez regulates the water table in the city. Water from one such natural spring is directed to the pushkarini in Guru Nanak Jhira Sahib. The pathway to the cave temple Narasimha Jharni is also filled with water from such springs. Both these places bear testimony to the significance and relevance of the karez.

Open wells are part of Bidar’s culture and one can see them in every house. But in the last couple of decades, the water levels had gone down and people were forced to dig borewells. The silted karez was in a state of neglect until recently. In 2014, the Indian Heritage Cities Network (IHCN) in association with local enthusiasts studied the karez and its role in ensuring the city’s water security.

Subsequent studies on the water sources of Bidar suggested that lakes in different parts of the city are linked to the karez. Ghulam Yazdani, who was the director of archaeology department under the Nizam’s rule, had explained in detail about the karez system in his book (1915). IHCN took this further and invited experts in the field to validate its relevance.

Subsequently, M L Khaneiki, a groundwater expert from UNESCO’s International Centre on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures visited the city and underlined the geological, social and cultural significance of this heritage structure. He also indicated that the rejuvenation of karez would improve the water levels in the city. Later, the district administration initiated a project to desilt the canal. Initially it was believed that 22 vents were connected to the canal. Upon a Google survey, over 30 vents were located.

In 2015, 29 vents were desilted. Consistent efforts yielded results in 2016, when water started oozing in the karez after the monsoons. Since then, the karez has not gone dry, and even now, in summer, we can see about 2.5 feet water in it. The desilting work has been completed at a stretch of 2.5 km.

The collaborative efforts of the district administration, local youth through Team Yuva and various departments have led to the revival of a unique ancient water harnessing structure in Bidar.

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