In Jharkhand, Using an Old Technique for Sustainable Water (2022)

Agriculture, Water

Dobhas are small ponds that can help store water for use during the dry season.

By Sandeep Dixit and Abhijit Sharan

The Indian state of Jharkhand suffered an unprecedented drought recently, causing many rain-fed rivers and rivulets to dry up. Because of this, authorities felt it necessary to have sustainable water harvesting structures available to farmers. As a part of its water conservation efforts, the Centers for International Projects Trust in New Delhi collaborated with Ranchi’s Birsa Agricultural University to work on construction of small ponds (called “dobhas”) under its Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers’ Livelihood program. Once prevalent, these indigenous structures are helping farmers cope with the state’s water crisis.

Despite being endowed with natural and human capital, Jharkhand has among the highest levels of hunger in India, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute’s hunger index. The state also suffers from high incidences of poverty and malnutrition. Around 37 percent of the state’s population lives below poverty line. More than three-quarters of the population lives in rural areas. Close to 26 percent population of the state is tribal.

Although the average annual rainfall in the state is of around 1,200 mm, only a fifth of it is utilized. The mostly rocky terrain in the state limits soil water absorption, causing periodic droughts and limiting groundwater availability. The state’s 2010-11 economic survey indicated that surface water for agriculture was not sufficient because of inadequate storage facilities. Ninety percent of the state’s rainwater is wasted as untapped run-off due to poor management practices.

Agriculture and its challenges
Agriculture in Jharkhand is characterized by high dependence on nature, low productivity, less diversified cropping, inadequate irrigation, and dominance of small and marginal farmers. The periodic agricultural drought directly impacts the livelihood of more than 20 million farmers due to poor access to resources, inputs and lack of capacity to use modern farm production technologies and practices, such as sub-optimum quantities of pesticides which lead to pest attacks. Climate change and over-dependence on rain-fed agriculture has led to a vicious cycle of low productivity, low income and poor finances in last two decades. Jharkhand agriculture is largely rain-fed, with only 11 percent of the cultivated area under assured irrigation.

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Poor returns from agriculture are common in the tribal state. Insufficient irrigation leads to damaged crops, and many farmers can only cultivate one crop in a year. This mono-cropping also affects the soil quality, and eventually the crop quality, which further compounds the financial woes of the farmer. Although the Green Revolution of the 1970s benefited the nation in more ways than one, its footprint in eastern India, including Jharkhand, didn’t become as visible as anticipated.

Rainwater harvesting and use
According to the Centre for Science and Environment, Jharkhand has a potential to harvest up to 112 thousand million cubic feet of water. However, the recent drought in Jharkhand caused many rivers and rivulets to dry up. Subsequently, authorities made sustainable water harvesting structures available to farmers.

As part of water conservation efforts, the Centers for International Projects Trust collaborated with Ranchi’s Birsa Agricultural University to work on construction of small ponds—dobhas—under its Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers’ Livelihood program. Dobhas store rainwater which can be used for irrigation purposes during non-rainy months. This reduces the dependence of the farmers on monsoons and helps them diversify their cropping patterns.

This program was initiated in 10 villages of the Angara block, Ranchi district, in early 2015. Dobhas are indigenous structures for water conservation which were prevalent in the region 20 to 30 years back, regaining popularity during this ongoing water crisis. The construction of dobhas is also spearheaded by the Jharkhand government on a massive scale, which aims to construct 500,000 dobhas across the state by the end of 2020.

This is in line with the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojna, which is a national program run by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare. This program aims for Har Khet Ko Pani (“water in every field”) for improving farm productivity and to ensure better utilization of the resources in the country.

The Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers’ Livelihood program also includes promotion of modern inputs, capacity-building of farmers and building agricultural information networks across the target villages. The program emphasizes building awareness and climate resilience among the farmers while developing value chains for crops in order to enhance incomes for small and marginal farmers.

The potential dobha sites were identified in low-lying areas where the rainwater could accumulate, and dobhas of dimensions 10ft x 10ft x 10ft were dug up. These dobhas can store up to 25,000 to 30,000 liters of rainwater, enough to meet farmers’ water needs.

Diversifying livelihoods, enhancing incomes
A survey of locations where dobhas were built under the program suggests that nearly three-quarters of them have the potential to store a significant amount of rainwater that could last eight to nine months per year. The infiltration from these water structures also provides recharge to sub-surface aquifers, which eventually helps to increase soil moisture availability and sustain water levels in dobhas.

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A digital map showing the location of dobhas. Proper location of dobhas is crucial to ensure they can capture and maintain the desired amounts of water.

The average cost of construction of one dobha is $46-$48. During the winter months, when their fields were barren due to the lack of water, the farmers have now started growing vegetables and flowers. Initial findings suggest that a farmer can earn an additional income of $70-$80 per month just by selling vegetables. The cost incurred on dobha construction is easily recoverable in the first cropping season. A post-harvest study showed that farmers of the Angara region earned approximately $750-$950 from production of rice and vegetables from one hectare of land.

The application and use of low-cost precision technologies like soil moisture sensors help in conserving water through better demand management. Coupled with better management practices and improved varieties of seeds, this increased crop yields. A post-harvest survey indicated that, on average, the paddy yield has increased 900 kilograms to 1,700 kilograms per acre in most of the program villages. Real time information on weather and cropping practices, capacity building of farmers and regular scientific support also aid the farmers.

The way ahead
In addition to the above efforts, the government has started using the dobhas under their Matsya Mitra (“Friends of Fish”) program, where they promote fish rearing among the farmers. This program, in its initial stages, is showing signs of success with some farmers earning around $770 by rearing fish from half a hectare (a little over one acre) of small tanks. Using dobhas for such activities will also make these small reservoirs a source of income for marginal farmers.

Proper location of dobhas is of paramount concern: Certain dobhas, built outside of the program, were not able to capture the desired amounts of water. On the other hand, dobhas built after careful site selection were able to maintain the perennial presence of water.

The low cost of construction, self-sufficient maintenance and high return on investment from these dobhas is already attracting many farmers to adopt their usage. The Jharkhand government aims to bring 100,000 acres of farmland under assured irrigation.

A total of 500,000 operational dobhas will collectively save 12.5 million cubic meters of rainwater. Additionally, if all the impacted farmers adopt better management practices and high yielding varieties of seeds, the state will witness an estimated five-fold increase in paddy production alone.

This integrated approach could help double farm income by 2020, as envisioned by the government of India. Farmers of Jharkhand will be able to see a food-secure state with enhanced crop production and income.

Sandeep Dixit Works as program manager with The Centers for International Projects Trust, New Delhi. Abhijit Sharan works as senior research associate with IORA Ecological Solutions, New Delhi. Earth Institute professors Upmanu Lall and Vijay Modi were advisors on this USAID-funded project that’s being led by Kamal Vatta of The Centers for International Projects Trust.


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Which type of irrigation is used in Jharkhand? ›

The most common traditional sources of irrigation have been bandhs, ahars and ponds, while farmers with-both large and smallholdings have also relied on homestead wells for irrigation in the dry season.

What is an old aged method of harvesting water in India? ›

Paar system: Paar is a common water harvesting practice in the western Rajasthan region. It is a common place where the rainwater flows from the agar (catchment) and in the process percolates into the sandy soil. In order to access the rajani pani (percolated water) kuis or beris are dug in the agor (storage area).

Which water harvesting structure is used in Bihar in the past? ›

The correct answer is Pynes. Pyne is at least 5000 years old irrigation system in Bihar, the traditional irrigation system well managed by the Magadhi Kingdom. Pynes are diversion channels laid from the river for the water in Ahar and the channels.

What are the traditional methods of water conservation in Karnataka? ›

'Kattas' — temporary check dams built across streams and rivulets — used to be a common sight in the districts of Kerala and Karnataka till two decades ago. These traditional structures were constructed every year to conserve water for summer irrigation.

Which part of Jharkhand is famous for the uses of pond for irrigation? ›

TSRDS has promoted about 800 farm ponds in the Kolhan region of the districts of East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Seraikela–Kharsawan in Jharkhand.

Which part of Jharkhand is famous for well irrigation? ›

Highest percentage of well irrigation has been recorded in Dumka and Jamtara.

What are the two main techniques of water harvesting? ›

Two methods of water harvesting in India: (i) The excess water collected through rainfall can be carried to the wells, which further helps to recharge the wells and underground water. (ii) Collection of rainwater on top of the roof and directing dry tanks.

What are the 5 methods of water conservation? ›

Water conservation can go a long way to help alleviate these impending shortages.
  • Check your toilet for leaks. ...
  • Stop using your toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket. ...
  • Put a plastic bottle in your toilet tank. ...
  • Take shorter showers. ...
  • Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors. ...
  • Take baths.

How was water conserved and managed in olden days? ›

In ancient times, houses in parts of western Rajasthan were built so that each had a rooftop water harvesting system. Rainwater from these rooftops was directed into underground tanks. This system can be seen even today in all the forts, palaces and houses of the region.

Which ancient town is known for water harvesting? ›

The correct answer is Dholavira. The site was in news quite recently and it is expected that you know this. Dholavira is located on Kadir island in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. The city had an impressive and unique water harvesting and management system.

Which state of India leads in water harvesting? ›

Therefore, Tamil Nadu is the correct answer, since Tamil Nadu is the first and the only state in India, which has made rooftop rainwater harvesting structures and is compulsory to all the houses across the state. Thus the correct answer is option 'A'.

What is traditional water management system? ›

The basis of traditional water management in arid regions was to harness the rainwater through harvesting and conservation. Using decades of experience, traditional structures were built to catch, hold, and store rainwater in the arid regions. In areas with hilly topography, surface water was harnessed for consumption.

What is traditional water conservation? ›

Johads. These water soak pits, called as Madakas in Karnataka, Pemghara in Odisha and Johads in Rajasthan, are one of the oldest water conservation methods in India used to conserve and recharge ground water.

Who started water conservation in India? ›

First designed by the Paliwal Brahmins of Jaisalmer in the 15th century, this system is very similar to the irrigation methods of the people of ancient Ur (present Iraq).

What is Jharkhand state Water Policy 2011? ›

Jharkhand water policy 2011 calls for proper planning, thoughtful utilization & sustainable management of water. It calls for a multidisciplinary and holistic approach that considers water as part of the ecosystem for the benefit of all.

Why Jharkhand is rich in renewable resources? ›

The correct answer is Abundance of waterfalls. Jharkhand is rich in renewable resources because of the abundance of waterfalls. Hydroelectricity is an important renewable energy source.

When in Jharkhand the water conservation system Dobha started? ›

This program was initiated in 10 villages of the Angara block, Ranchi district, in early 2015. Dobhas are indigenous structures for water conservation which were prevalent in the region 20 to 30 years back, regaining popularity during this ongoing water crisis.

Is Jharkhand rich in water resources? ›

Jharkhand state is endowed with vast fresh water resources in the form of tanks/ponds and reservoirs. The main rivers flowing in the State are Damodar, Mayurakshi, Barakar, Koyal, Sankh, Son, Auranga, More, Karo, Bansloi, South Koel, Kharkai, Swarna Rekha, Ganga, Gumani and Batane.

Why Jharkhand is poor in canal irrigation? ›

The correct answer is The area is hilly. Jharkhand fares poorly in terms of canal irrigation because the area is hilly.

Which river is called lifeline of Jharkhand? ›

Origin point of river Damodar: River Damodar, known as lifeline of Jharkhand, originates from Chullhapani situated at the boarder of Lohardaga and Latehar districts.

What is the oldest method of water purification? ›

Distillation is one of the oldest methods of water treatment and is still in use today, though not commonly as a home treatment method. It can effectively remove many contaminants from drinking water, including bacteria, inorganic and many organic compounds.

Which is the oldest water harvesting system? ›

This is Expert Verified Answer

Sringaverapura water harvesting system, that is located near Allahabad, is the oldest one that channels the flood water of Ganga river. In first century BC, the system was constructed to conserve water.

What are the different traditional methods of water conservation in India? ›

Traditional conservation techniques like katta, sand bores, johads, bawdi, bamboo drip irrigation systems are some very good examples of water conservation practices in India.

Which is the best method of water harvesting? ›

Use rainwater effectively.

Storage techniques (such as external catchments or roof top collection) increase the availability of water in the drier seasons. They also harvest water from a wider area making more water available to the crop.

How many techniques are there for rainwater harvesting? ›

There are three main types of rainwater harvesting system: direct pumped, indirect pumped, and indirect gravity.

What are the 7 methods of water treatment? ›


These include: (1) Collection ; (2) Screening and Straining ; (3) Chemical Addition ; (4) Coagulation and Flocculation ; (5) Sedimentation and Clarification ; (6) Filtration ; (7) Disinfection ; (8) Storage ; (9) and finally Distribution.

What are 20 ways to save water? ›

20 Ways to Save Water
  1. Use a displacement device (a water-filled bottle) in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water required to flush.
  2. Use toilet only for its intended purpose. ...
  3. Repair leaky taps or toilets immediately. ...
  4. Consider a small capacity toilet when replacing an old one.
  5. Take shorter showers.

What are the two main types of conservation techniques? ›

Basic ideas - Conservation methods
  • Preservation = not losing habitats or species, often via establishment of reserve areas.
  • Management = maintaining the balance within reserve areas, often via removal of alien species, restriction of human interference and deflection of succession.

How do you filter water in olden days? ›

As ancient Hindu texts reveal, they used heat, sunlight, and copper to purify water. Filtration using cloth, sand, and charcoal was also used to capture other contaminants. Purified water is then stored in earthen vessels. This enriches it with minerals and increases its alkalinity, improving its bioavailability.

How did people in olden days get water for their daily needs? ›

Ancient civilizations in many parts of the world practiced irrigation. In fact, civilization would probably not be possible without some form of irrigation. The earliest form of irrigation probably involved people carrying buckets of water from wells or rivers to pour on their crops.

How was water preserved in ancient India? ›

The water was conserved in ancient India by constructing sophisticated hydraulic structures like dams built of stone rubble, reservoirs or lakes, embankments and canals for irrigation.

Who found rainwater harvesting first? ›

Rainwater harvesting may date back to 6,000 years ago in China. Evidence is available for rainwater collection at least to 4,000 years ago. Water harvesting was used in China from the 3rd millennium BC.

What is the traditional method of water storage in cities? ›

Johads, one of the oldest systems used to conserve and recharge ground water, are small earthen check dams that capture and store rainwater. Constructed in an area with naturally high elevation on three sides, a storage pit is made by excavating the area, and excavated soil is used to create a wall on the fourth side.

What is the name of water harvesting? ›

rainwater harvesting system, also called rainwater collection system or rainwater catchment system, technology that collects and stores rainwater for human use.

Which state is best in water conservation? ›

NEW DELHI : Uttar Pradesh topped among all Indian states in terms of water conservation. On Tuesday, President Ram Nath Kovind awarded the 'best state' award at the National Water Awards 2022.

Which state has best water quality in India? ›

The rank is based on the percentage of households which have access to safe drinking water.
List of Indian states and union territories by access to safe drinking water.
RankStatePercentage of households with access to safe drinking water(2011)
2Uttar Pradesh95.1
32 more rows

Which state is first in rain water harvesting? ›

Tamil Nadu is the first and the only state in India, which has made rooftop rainwater harvesting compulsory. Amendments made to Section 215 (a) of the Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act, 1920 and Building Rules 1973, have made it mandatory to provide Rain Water Harvesting structures in all new buildings.

Which is an example of traditional water harvesting system? ›

Some examples of traditional rainwater harvesting include qanats, contour-bench terracing, spate irrigation, khuskhaba system, rooftop rainfall collection and cisterns.

What are the three traditional methods of irrigation? ›

The traditional methods of irrigation include the following: Check Basin Method. Furrow Irrigation Method. Strip Irrigation Method.

How many types of traditional methods of irrigation? ›

What are the Four Traditional Methods of Irrigation? They are basin, check basin, furrow and strip irrigation.

Who is known as the water girl of India? ›

On World Water Day 2022, we talk to Garvita Gulhati, 21, an award-winning conservationist and young climate leader.

Who is Father of water? ›

Named by Algonkian-speaking Indians, Mississippi can be translated as "Father of Waters." The river, the largest in North America, drains 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces, and runs 2,350 miles from its source to the Gulf of Mexico.

Who is called India's water man? ›

Rajendra Singh is a conservationist. He is also known as the Waterman of India.

Which type of irrigation is used in Bihar? ›

Canals Canals are a source of irrigation for nearly 40 percent of India's agricultural land. In Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Northern Rajasthan, canals are used to irrigate the soil.

Which irrigation is mostly used in Bihar? ›

Tubewell irrigation work was started in the year 1930 in the plains of Bihar. ➤ Around 53.46% of land out of the total irrigation land is irrigated by tubewells. ➤ Bihar has around 10,242 tubewells, out of which only 2,866 tubewells are used for irrigation purpose.

Which type of soil is found in Jharkhand? ›

Sandy soil, generally found in Hazaribagh and Dhanbad. Black soil, found in Rajmahal area. Laterite soil, found in western part of Ranchi, Palamu, and parts of Santhal Parganas and Singhbhum.

Which is the oldest means of irrigation? ›

The earliest form of irrigation probably involved people carrying buckets of water from wells or rivers to pour on their crops. As better techniques developed, societies in Egypt and China built irrigation canals, dams, dikes, and water storage facilities.

Which state is famous for irrigation? ›

Uttar Pradesh is the most irrigated state (17.6 million hectares) in India. Canals comprise a significant wellspring of the water system in Uttar Pradesh.

What are the 4 major irrigation techniques? ›

What are the different types of irrigation? The different types of irrigation include- sprinkler irrigation, surface irrigation, drip irrigation, sub-irrigation and manual irrigation.

Which state is in 1st in using micro irrigation? ›

Andhra Pradesh leads in micro irrigation implementation ahead of other states in the country as per a National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) report.

Which state has best irrigation system in India? ›

About 2/3rd cultivated land in India is dependent monsoons. Uttar Pradesh is the highest irrigated state (17.6 million hectares) in India.

Which is the first irrigation project of Bihar? ›

Major Medium Irrigation Projects in Bihar
1Adri Canal Medium Irrigation ProjectGanga
2Ajan (Kukurjhap) Medium Irrigation ProjectGanga
3Badua Major Irrigation ProjectGanga
4Bansagar Dam Major Irrigation Project BiharGanga
55 more rows
24 Aug 2021

What is the main problem of Jharkhand? ›

Jharkhand suffers from what is sometimes termed a resource curse: it accounts for more than 40% of the mineral resources of India, but 39.1% of its population is below the poverty line and 19.6% of children under five years of age are malnourished.

What is Jharkhand State Water Policy 2011? ›

Jharkhand water policy 2011 calls for proper planning, thoughtful utilization & sustainable management of water. It calls for a multidisciplinary and holistic approach that considers water as part of the ecosystem for the benefit of all.

What is Jharkhand best known for? ›

Jharkhand is famous for its rich mineral resources like Uranium, Mica, Bauxite, Granite, Gold, Silver, Graphite, Magnetite, Dolomite, Fireclay, Quartz, Fieldspar, Coal (32% of India), Iron, Copper (25%of India) etc. Forests and woodlands occupy more than 29% of the state which is amongst the highest in India.

Is Jharkhand rich or poor state? ›

Jharkhand. Jharkhand is the second poorest state in India. The poverty level of this state is about 42.16 percent. Jharkhand's social indicators such as literacy, enrollment, infant mortality, and child nutrition are below the all-India average.

What is Jharkhand most famous? ›

Jagannath Mandir

The Jagannath Temple is known for its significance in Ranchi. Located near Dhurwa on a hIll top is must go.


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