ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Tamil Nadu Revives Kudimaramathu

Ancient Wisdom of Water Management

Finally realising the economic and environmental benefits of small waterbodies, the Tamil Nadu government has revived kudimaramathu, the centuries-old practice of building and maintaining ponds and tanks with community involvement. This article recounts the history of the practice, its marginalisation in colonial times, and the politics that drives its revival today. The scheme will be successful and sustainable only if local farmers and stakeholders are empowered to select, maintain and repair these waterbodies.

Thanks are due to K Sivasubramaniyan for his comments.

The Tamil Nadu government has recently initiated kudimaramathu, a long-forgotten traditional but sustainable mode of managing small waterbodies like ooranies (ponds, mainly for drinking water), kanmois (tanks) and reservoirs in the water-starved state. The practice is expected to pay dividends in the long term.

While large irrigation structures such as dams entail huge investment, the displacement of local people, and submersion of sizeable portions of land, small irrigation systems are preferred for their sustainability, cost-effectiveness and local benefit. Such small waterbodies were built hundreds and thousands of years ago, with dynasties and monarchies giving great importance to the management of these structures, with the active participation of local communities. To further encourage community involvement in sustaining these waterbodies, farmers were allotted some portions of the lands called maniyam (Sivasubramaniyan 1995) surrounding the tanks and ponds to maintain, the portion dependent on the size of a farmer’s landholding in the ayacut1 zone.

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Updated On : 9th Feb, 2018
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