Rajasthan, Dec 17: The lives of most of the 1.5 crore population of arid western Rajasthan have changed for the better after an age-old method of rainwater harvesting has been improved and employed there effectively, an official said here on Tuesday.
The 'tanka' storage system - the method of collecting rainwater from a catchment area and storing it in a 'tanka' (underground tanks) - is unique to this part of the country.
The water-scarce desert and arid region, which used to suffer from droughts frequently, has benefited from the system which has been improved by an institute under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
People in the districts of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Nagaur, Bikaner and Churu in the Thar desert now have access to stored water throughout the year, Jodhpur District Magistrate Prakash Rajpurohit said.
"Most of the 1.5 crore population in the region have benefited from constructing tankas in their households through the NREGA programme, in which 100 per cent funding is provided by the government," Rajpurohit told a group of visiting journalists.
While the Centre bears 60 per cent of the approximate Rs 1.2 lakh cost for construction of a tanka for a single household, the rest 40 per cent is borne by the state government, he said.
"With an average rainfall of 350 mm annually, the region needs to store rainwater as much as possible and the tanka system has proved to be a boon for the purpose," the district magistrate said.
In Jodhpur district, a total of 3005 tankas were constructed at a cost of around Rs 75 crores from April 1, 2018 to January 1, 2019, an official said.
In a four-decade-long research, the Jodhpur-based Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI) has perfected the technology of tanka construction for various types of users, a CAZRI spokesman said.
The CAZRI which functions under the aegis of the ICAR has developed an improved design of tanka for capacities varying between 5000 litres for individual capacity and 6 lakh litres for community use, he said.
Improved tankas are built mainly of stones, cement and concrete, the spokesman said.