The river Mezii flows along the Angami village of Kwigema in
Nagaland. The riverwater is brought down by a long channel.
From this channel, many branch channels are taken off, and water
is often diverted to the terraces through bamboo pipes. One
of the channels is named Cheo-oziihi - oziihi means water
and Cheo was the person responsible for the laying of
this 8-10 km-long channel with its numerous branches. This channel
irrigates a large number of terraces in Kwigwema, and some terraces
in the neighbouring village. There are three khels and
the village water budget is divided among these
Meghalaya has an ingenious system of tapping of stream and
springwater by using bamboo pipes to irrigate plantations. About
18-20 litres of water entering the bamboo pipe system per minute
gets transported over several hundred metres and finally gets
reduced to 20-80 drops per minute at the site of the plant.
This 200-year-old system is used by the tribal farmers of Khasi
and Jaintia hills to drip-irrigate their black pepper cultivation.
Bamboo pipes are used to divert perennial springs on the hilltops
to the lower reaches by gravity. The channel sections, made
of bamboo, divert and convey water to the plot site where it
is distributed without leakage into branches, again made and
laid out with different forms of bamboo pipes. Manipulating
the intake pipe positions also controls the flow of water into
the lateral pipes. Reduced channel sections and diversion units
are used at the last stage of water application. The last channel
section enables the water to be dropped near the roots of the
Bamboos of varying diameters are used for laying the channels.
About a third of the outer casing in length and internodes of
bamboo pieces have to be removed while fabricating the system.
Later, the bamboo channel is smoothened by using a dao, a type
of local axe, a round chisel fitted with a long handle. Other
components are small pipes and channels of varying sizes used
for diversion and distribution of water from the main channel.
About four to five stages of distribution are involved from
the point of the water diversion to the application point.