Revitalizing Traditional Water Conservation: The Khadeen System of Rajasthan
The ancient water harvesting structures known as khadeens in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan represent a traditional wisdom of conserving scarce rainwater in arid lands. These structures have supported agriculture for centuries by capturing and storing rainwater, thus enabling the cultivation of crops like wheat, gram, and mustard in a region with minimal rainfall.
However, the shift to canal irrigation led to a decline in the use of khadeens, resulting in the loss of both the structures and the knowledge of maintaining them. Now, efforts are underway to revive these systems, recognizing their value in biodiversity conservation, prevention of farmer migration, and maintenance of organic farming practices.
The construction of khadeens involves creating embankments to capture the monsoon rains, allowing the water to percolate and create muddy fields suitable for planting. This method not only provides water for crops but also supports a range of biodiversity, including migratory birds and local flora.
Despite their importance, khadeens face threats from modern infrastructure development and mining, which disrupt their catchment areas. The government’s support for their revival has been limited, with no specific schemes directed towards their restoration since 2005.
Local communities, understanding the value of khadeens, have taken the initiative to restore these structures, led by individuals dedicated to preserving this ancient wisdom. Their efforts ensure that khadeens remain a vital part of the landscape, supporting both the people and the environment of Jaisalmer.
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