Neglected today, ancient ponds could help overcome water shortage

Published February 25, 2019
A large ancient pond and banyan tree remain a landmark of the Dariala Sehgan village in Gujar Khan tehsil. — Dawn
A large ancient pond and banyan tree remain a landmark of the Dariala Sehgan village in Gujar Khan tehsil. — Dawn

GUJAR KHAN: Ponds have been an important method of storing rainwater for much of human civilisation, and in rural parts of the Potohar region were considered an essential part of a village or a small locality.

Under the Mughals and other ancient rules, the Potohar region was dotted with small and large ponds, banyan and peepal trees at their banks. They were used for washing and bathing, for cattle and for recreation. Some of these ponds remain, in spite of neglect by current administrations.

Fishery was also availed as an additional activity in villages. Daultala town had four large ponds with well paved banks that were visited by residents all day, and people would swim there in the summer.

According to local agriculture officer Shahzad Mumtaz, keeping these ponds filled with sufficient rainwater also benefits the groundwater table in nearby areas. In addition, these ponds have a positive influence on the weather, curtailing severe hot weather and allowing plantations nearby to flourish.

Mr Mumtaz noted that since these ponds have fallen out of use, a large number of town residents have faced an acute water shortage. Meanwhile the nearby Nata village overcame a water shortage by building a pond; in the past, they would fetch water from other localities.

Dawn has observed that the increase and spread of people and unplanned construction has destroyed the catchments of these ancient dams.

Rainwater now drains directly into nullahs and drains, and encroachments of public land as well as a lack of managements also lets rainwater got to waste.

The result has been an acute water shortage, particularly in rain-irrigated areas.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2019

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