Sunday, September 21, 2008
A few days back, I met an avid traveler who had just been to Ziro and enthusiastically telling me how beautiful the place is. He had all praise for the agricultural system of the Apatanis. I was happy to meet one more person who appreciates the tribe and its customs. Then he started speaking about the ‘Keley’ river and remarked that the water there should be used for irrigation purpose!
“It is the water of that river which irrigates 90% of the rice paddy you saw,” I told him.
“How can that be?” he was incredulous. “That river bed is lower than the paddy fields.”
I then understood that he just had a glance at the paddy fields and the river, but not really looked at the irrigation system of the Apatanis. It also made me realize how really expert the Apatanis are in maximally utilizing the water resource in the area. The traditional irrigation channels (siigangs) are diverted from the main river at the traditional irrigation projects called bogos made of bamboo and wood.
Moreover, the perfect gradient of the irrigation channels – the siigangs – are something to be given a thought. Neither does the water in any of the siigangs flow too fast to cause damage, nor does it flow too slow to remain stagnant anywhere in its course.
Apart from irrigation, there are other areas of water management that is often not noticed. One is the traditional way of erosion protection using bamboo and wood. This was a laborious affair, as it had to be repaired every year, but it was quite effective. That is the reason the course of the ‘Keley’ river had not changed over all these years.