The history of water management in India goes back a long way, before some civilizations had even begun settling down as organised societies. Mohenjodaro and Harappa were old yet developed cities in the ancient times. These cities were well-organised and built of brick and stone. The drainage systems, wells and water storage systems were ahead of its time. These organised systems set them apart from all other ancient civilisations. It is when we take a look at the ancient water harvesting systems that such an activity not only appears doable, but stands out as a phenomenon to be marvelled at.
Most of these civilizations settled down on the banks of a water body like a river or a sea since this ensured a constant supply of water for their needs. Water was necessary for cultivation and irrigation of crops. Water transport was used significantly, and waterways were an important source of trade and commerce.
Water tanks, canals and bunds were built 5000 years ago in Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Every village in the Sindhu-Saraswati basin (where these civilizations existed) had a water storage tank. Some of these structures still stand today as a proof of these prosperous times. In these cities, all houses, including those that were at the periphery were linked to the respective city’s central drainage network.
The Indus Valley Civilization that flourished along the banks of the river Indus and other parts of western and northern India had the most well developed urban water supply and sewage systems in the world. This civilization maintained high standards of hygiene and sanitation, and had enclosed drains that were laid beneath the streets of the towns.