Tradition saves

It isn't a miracle. Though it is the land of Lord Krishna. While the rising temperatures have left many areas in Gujarat parched, for the residents of Dwarka their traditional water conservation system has ensured a perennial source of water.

Almost every house in the city has an underground tank which is used to collect rainwater every year. Sealed from all sides, drainpipes from rooftops and terraces are connected to the tank. A small opening at the top allows periodical cleaning of the tank with bags of lime (a disinfectant) . If the rainfall is good, some tanks which are as large as 25 square metres can collect ample water. Since it is used strictly for drinking and cooking, it could last up to two years. It is this conserved water that is making a difference with other severely affected parts of Saurashtra.

Realising the importance of rainwater conservation, the Dwarka municipality has made the provision of a tank almost compulsory during construction of houses. "We haven't made it a rule, but it is deemed that every house plan should have a tank. When people realised the importance of water 80 to 90 years ago, as can be seen from the havelis built then, why don't we?' asks Nilaben Upadhaya, president of the municipality ( The Indian Express , May 13, 2000).

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