TISDS and CSE revives Paar

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) through its small grant programme assisted Thar Integrated Social Development Society (TISDS) in reviving the paar - a traditional rainwater harvesting technique in Jaisalmer district as a drought proofing model

Last couple of years has been particularly bad for Rajasthan in general and Western Rajasthan in specific. Lack of adequate monsoon forced the villagers to migrate to nearby towns for survival. The migration process was further complicated by the presence of high livestock population. In absence of fodder and water they also had become a part of the migration process. This rampant migration marked by human and livestock suffering triggered Bhatti to develop a region specific drought-proofing model.

In April 2003, Bhatti initiated his experiment of developing paar as a drought-proofing model in Manapia village of Jaisalmer district. Owing to the deteriorating water scenario, Bhatti approached the panchayat and convinced them to lease out the panchayat land for five years from 2003 onwards to TISDS. It is predominantly a tribal village where 90 per cent of the habitants are below the poverty line. The village constitutes of 70 households and they are totally dependent on agriculture and livestock. At times, they even go to the neighbouring village to work as agricultural labourers.

As a result of the first phase of the initiative, villagers not only developed an asset but also gained employment during the course of work. The entire project cost was estimated at Rs. 2,21,600. Work began by developing the agar - catchment area to enhance the flow of rainwater. Later kuis or beris were constructed in the agor to access the water which had percolated during the monsoon runoff. After developing the traditional system Bhatti now is concentrating in working on the two hectares of land adjoining the paar at
Women collecting water from Kui
Manapia. According to him the interlinkages between the traditional water harvesting system and strategic land development measures will be strengthened and popularised as a drought-proofing model in the region. As a part of the strategy Bhatti plans to grow fodder, endangered species of the desert and Rabi crops in the adjoining land, which will be irrigated perennially by the paar system. Bhatti strongly feels that such an integrated approach would definitely help in solving the problems faced by humans and livestock.

The paar system at Manapia village has been revived this year, yet there are certain immediate benefit, that are visible, for instance
  • Once a water stress village now has a perennial source for human and livestock consumption. Earlier the villagers especially women and girls had to walk atleast 7 km to fetch water for livestock and 2 km for their own consumption. The paar system has been instrumental in reducing their drudgery
  • The activity not only gainfully employed the villagers but it also disseminated the traditional wisdom to the youths in the village for it to be kept alive
  • People from adjoining villages have already started to approach TISDS to replicate similar work in their villages
After the completion of the second phase of the project the output will be further strengthened and visible.


TISDS, a Jaisalmer-based non-governmental organisation, has been actively involved in addressing the regional ecological issues since 1994. Interestingly, it was in 1986, that a group of 15 higher secondary school students got together in Jaisalmer to address the environmental issues related to forestry, sacred groove and traditional rainwater harvesting systems and land management. And finally in April 1994 they registered the group as TISDS. Since then they have been constantly addressing issues concerning forest, land and water in the rural areas of Jaisalmer.

TISDS has been largely involved in
  • Generating ecological awareness in the rural areas through gram baithaks (village meetings)
  • Reviving Oran (sacred groves) in the region. TISDS has revived an Oran at Damodara village, 25 km from Jaisalmer. Diverse saplings were planted keeping in mind the dependence of villagers on forest for their existence. In order to meet the fodder and grass requirement for the livestock, prosopis cineraria and zizphus nummularia were planted. To address the growing need for wood saplings of Rohinda were planted in large numbers. Some other saplings planted were, azarrdirachata indica, ficus benegalensis, salvadora persica, zygophallum simples and capparis decidua. To revive the Oran, the entire area was demarcated and later fenced to prevent uncontrolled accessibility to people. Apart from planting area and need specific saplings, importance was also given to natural regeneration of existing rootstalk of existing plants. A small nadi (pond) was also built next to the groove for its restoration. A 30,000 litres tanka was also built to harvest the rainwater to meet the drinking water needs of livestock and humans.
  • Popularising traditional rainwater harvesting systems for instance, nadis, paar, tankas etc. Old and dilapidated nadis at Damodara, Dujasar were restored to meet the drinking water requirement of the human and livestock population. Similarly, TISDS was involved in rejuvenating the paar system at Khadera and Damodara village. In order to provide drinking water to school students, TISDS constructed a tanka at Salkha village.


According to Jethu Singh Bhatti, General Secretary of TISDS the region has the lowest average annual rainfall of 250 mm in the country. Interestingly, despite the area falling in the low rainfall regime it has the highest human population density in the world and a substantial cattle density in comparison to the other desert regions. According to him availability of water through traditional water conservation practices has been the main reason for such a phenomenon. Bhatti classifies the local water management techniques in the following three forms.

NAADI (Village ponds): Rainwater falling in the catchment area is collected in the village ponds and tanks. The water collected is locally referred to as Palar paani

Kui/beri (traditional wells): The natural percolation of rainwater is accessed through kuis or beris. The locals refer to this water as PATALI PANI

Paar system: Paar is a common water harvesting practice in the western Rajasthan region. It is a common place where the rainwater flows from the agar (catchment) and in the process percolates into the sandy soil. In order to access the rajani pani (percolated water) kuis or beris are dug in the agor (storage area). Kuis or beris are normally 5 metres (m) to 12 m deep. The structure was constructed through traditional masonary technology. Normally six to ten of them are constructed in a paar. However depending on the size of the paar the numbers of kuis or beris are decided. Bhatti mentions that there are paars in Jaisalmer district where there are more than 20 kuis are in operation. This is the most predominant form of rainwater harvesting in the region. Rainwater harvested through PAAR technique is known as Patali paani.

No water
Water war
Look up!
How to harvest
    In rural areas
 n In urban areas
Jal yodhas
Way ahead
Center for Science & Environment CSE Store Equity Watch Gobar Times Down to Earth
Now buy viagra online from different online pharmacies and sort out all sexual performance related issues. You can get comprehensive and up to date source of drug information online. Not only Viagra, but you can buy cialis online also at some discounted price. From the site casino online also you can buy these.