India is a land of diverse cultural and historical heritage. However, many are unaware of the importance of water structures that form a crucial part of India’s legacy. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, does not mention any provision for designating a site as a “Water Heritage Site.” Nevertheless, in honor of India’s 75 years of independence, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has created a committee to select 75 Water Heritage Structures.
The committee received 421 nominations from various sources, including state governments, academic institutions, NGOs, and the general public. After a thorough screening process, the committee recommended 75 structures, including five from Gujarat and four from Andhra Pradesh.
Water Heritage Sites are structures that are built to preserve and manage water resources. These structures include tanks, wells, step wells, canals, aqueducts, water mills, and reservoirs. These sites play a vital role in India’s water security and have significant cultural and historical significance.
To showcase these 75 Water Heritage Structures, the Ministry of Jal Shakti launched a sub-portal called “Jal-Itihas” on January 5, 2023. This sub-portal will be a part of the India-WRIS portal, which is an online platform for water resources management. The Jal-Itihas sub-portal will have detailed information about each Water Heritage Site, including its history, cultural significance, and present condition.
Currently, there is no central fund assigned for the upkeep of these sites. However, the state governments can allocate funds for the maintenance and preservation of these Water Heritage Sites. The Ministry of Jal Shakti has also urged the private sector to contribute to the upkeep of these sites through corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Water Heritage Sites are significant in maintaining India’s water security and play a crucial role in preserving India’s cultural and historical legacy. These sites also provide a glimpse into the ingenious water management practices of our ancestors, which can help in developing sustainable water management practices for the future.