Socio-Ecological Paradigm in Historical Water System – The Case of Jabalpur

Author: Nitin Parate | Krvia – Post Graduate Program | 2020

Various historic cities in India has evolved around either river system or has evolved with indigenous water system as a part of city fabric. Such indigenous water system are important part of city, people, their customs, belief, rituals and everyday public realm. This relationship can be understood in the form of different paradigms namely spiritual and religious paradigm (according to Islam, water is the gift of God, this perception led to the democratic way of distribution of water in the form of fountains to the community), aesthetic and recreational paradigm (invention of hamams and public baths), financial and economic paradigm (profit is the primary goal and commitment of water at market value), legal and ethical paradigm (according to Egyptian it is ethically unacceptable to pollute water) in which water systems were perceived and functioned accordingly by  human civilizations throughout history. 

Jabalpur is known for the amount of Natural beauty it had to offer to its residents and visitors alike. Lakes, hills and dense vegetation are scattered around the city, always a sight for sore eyes. Over the decades, rapid urbanization has massively impacted the health of lakes and tanks and most of them are now reclaimed as well. The construction of buildings by reclamation of water bodies, improper sanitation services and a steady increase in population, have systematically contributed to the stripping away of the city’s natural resources, making lake conservation an important issue.

Along with this problem the spiritual connections between the communities and lakes are also disappearing, cultural hybridization and adoption of modern management techniques are very much responsible for the depletion of lakes and tanks in Jabalpur. People have lost their associations with tanks and lakes, before they played an important role in the social and ecological aspects of the city.

The aim was to study such intrinsic historic relationship and its subsequent transformation over a period of time with the new emerging changing dynamics between city, people and existing water bodies through the lenses of its historic values, and transformation process through urban conservation. It has to re-established the lost historic, spiritual and ecological value towards urban water bodies in lake city of Jabalpur by deriving a socio-ecological approach towards water bodies and its geographical situation. Through the Urban Lake conservation and management framework it is going to rejuvenate and establish the new interactions between people, water bodies and its historicity which will further lead to the conservation of such important ecological features. This study shall demonstrate that how important urban feature like water bodies in dense historic setup can be used to restore the values as well as create awareness about its significance in ever transforming urban situation and second tier city like Jabalpur.

Text & Image Credit: Nitin Parate | Krvia – Post Graduate Program | Urban Conservation

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