The ‘karez’ water system (subterranean aqueduct) in Bidar is unique not only by Indian standards, but also by global standards. Its design, purpose, and social and cultural implications make it remarkable, M.L. Khaneiki, groundwater expert from UNESCO’s International Center on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures, said here on Wednesday.
He was speaking at a workshop for officials of the Agriculture, Irrigation, Watershed and other related departments, organised by the district administration.
He pointed out that the structure was unique for three reasons: it transfers water from a low-lying watershed to a higher altitude; it uses techniques of a reservoir, water duct and a step well; every square inch of the karez is a rainwater harvesting and filtering system as it has been carved out of laterite rock.
Iran had over 35,000 karez systems and most African and many West Asian countries had similar systems. But not one of them was like this, he said.
“It has all the potential to qualify as a UNESCO heritage structure. The State government should seriously consider applying for the recognition,” he said.
V. Govindan Kutty, hydrology expert, University of Calicut, explained the salient features of the karez system in Bidar. He said three distinct karez lines had been identified by researchers.
He said that the challenge now was their restoration and reuse. Urban development needs to be monitored strictly, indiscriminate housing should be avoided, and lung spaces should be created, he added.
“Grassland should be retained and empty spaces should be afforested. Rainwater harvesting should be encouraged and people should be dissuaded from throwing garbage into open wells or letting out sewer lines into drinking water structures,” he said.
Annies K. Joy, Assistant Commissioner, said each resident of the city should develop a sense of pride about the karez system. He asked officials to focus on land use regulations, watershed development and afforestation.
The subterranean aqueduct system in Bidar is unique not only by Indian standards, but also globally.