Stepwells, An Architectural Wonder:   Offer Solution to Water Scarcity Challenges in Maharashtra

Pune, June 7, 2023: To combat the persistent water scarcity issues plaguing Maharashtra, a centuries-old stepwells has emerged as a potential water source. In the state's historical landscape, this architectural marvel could provide a sustainable solution to the pressing water supply challenges faced by the region.

Stepwells, believed to be constructed hundreds of years ago, showcase our ancestors’ ingenious engineering and foresight. There could be around 20,000 such stepwells in different parts of Maharashtra. The government is hoping to rejuvenate thes historic  stepwells and get them to hold water again. The government plans to renovate 75 stepwells to celebrate India’s 75th anniversary.

The state culture department has taken the initiative and formed a committee of twenty two members to draw up a detailed scheme for rejuvenating stepwells. The department also issued a government resolution to this effect last week.

Presently, these stepwells are dilapidated, with many of them blocked with no scope for them to use as a water source.

Wells or ponds with steps for accessing the water are known as stepwells. These structures may be multi-storeyed with significant ornamental and architectural features.

The proposal for conserving stepwell came from a Mumbai resident, Rohan Kale, who heads the ‘Maharashtra Barav Mohim’ (Maharashtra stepwells campaign aimed at documenting and attempting to preserve the historic stepwells.

Kale approached the Maharashtra government in January this year with a written proposal to make an effort as a government to rejuvenate these stepwells with specific suggestions.

The suggestions were mapping and documentation of stepwells, coordination with architectural colleges for documentation, holding cleanliness campaigns at stepwells, having deepotsavs at stepwells by decorating and lighting them up with traditional diyas, conservation of stepwells and their development as tourist spots.

The government formed a committee last week, with Kale as chief coordinator. However, he has now stepped down due to a disagreement with the state culture department on the committee’s constitution.

Currently, the committee members include the state culture department’s principal secretary and representatives from the government’s groundwater survey and development wings, along with the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). Moreover, it will have non-government experts, academicians and water conservation experts.

The stepwell’s historical significance adds more importance to its preservation and utilisation. It serves as a testament to our cultural heritage and holds the key to addressing Maharashtra’s most persistent problem: access to clean, reliable water.

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