It is the monsoon season once again and we read and see much of the rain water flooding our streets and then draining off or drying away. Ancient Indians understood the art of water governance. Kautilya’s Arthasastra, written around 300 BC, has detailed descriptions on how tanks and canals should be built, managed and leveraged by local communities and the State.
Sringaverapura near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, India is a fine example of water harvesting using hydraulic engineering practiced by our forefathers. It dates back to the end of the first century B C. There were three percolation-cum-storage tanks, fed by an 11 m wide and 5 m deep canal that used to take the floodwaters from the Ganga. Water from the canal went into a silting chamber where the dirt settled down. From here the cleaned water was directed into a brick lined tank. After this second line of cleaning it was sent to another tank through a stepped inlet and from there the water was sent into a circular tank which had an elaborate staircase. An elaborate waste weir, which had seven spill channels, a crest, and a final exit, channeled the excess water back into the Ganges. An amazing feat of engineering by our ancient engineers indeed!