Rajasthan’s Ancient Tankas Reimagined: A MGNREGA Success Story

The traditional tankas of Rajasthan are earthen rainwater storage tanks that have been used for centuries by the people of Barmer district and other parts of western Rajasthan to collect water received during showers between July and September. These tankas have a capacity of 20,000 to 40,000 litres and can meet the drinking water needs of a family for a year. However, due to climate change, population growth and urbanisation, these tankas have been neglected and damaged over time.

To revive this ancient and sustainable practice of water conservation, the state government has launched a project under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to modernise and repair the existing tankas and construct new ones with concrete and tiles. The project aims to provide employment to the rural poor, especially women, and ensure water security in the drought-prone region.

According to the official data, more than  1.5 lakh tankas have been constructed or renovated under MGNREGA in Barmer district alone since 2016. The project has also been implemented in other districts of western Rajasthan such as  Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Nagaur. The district has 2,971 villages, locally called ‘dhannis’, and respective gram panchayats are the implementing agencies. The beneficiaries are selected from the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families who have job cards under MGNREGA. The cost of each tanka is around Rs 25,000, out of which Rs 15,000 is paid as wages to the labourers and Rs 10,000 is given as material cost to the beneficiary.

The project has not only created employment opportunities for the rural poor but also improved their health and hygiene. The tankas provide clean drinking water throughout the year and prevent water-borne diseases. The women, who used to walk long distances to fetch water, now have more time for other productive activities. The tankas also help in recharging the groundwater table and reducing soil erosion.

The state government has also taken steps to ensure the quality and sustainability of the tankas. A mobile app called Jaldoot has been launched to monitor the construction and maintenance of the tankas. The app allows the officials and citizens to upload geo-tagged photos and videos of the tankas and report any issues or grievances. The app also provides information on the status of water availability in each tanka.

Rajasthan has emerged as a leader in implementing MGNREGA in the country. The state ranks first across the country in the approved labour budget in MGNREGA, the number of households who have completed 100 days, the creation of man-days and the National Mobile Monitoring System. The state has also received several awards from the central government for its performance in MGNREGA.

The tanka project is an example of how MGNREGA can be used to address the challenges of water scarcity, climate change and rural poverty in an innovative and effective way. It showcases how an ancient wisdom can be reimagined for a modern context with the help of technology and community participation.



Send Us A Message