A modern Suranga still in use (photo courtesy of Shree Padre)

Exeter Geographer investigates ancient irrigation system

Exeter Geographer and pollen specialist Dr Richard Jones is studying the history of one of the most innovative irrigation systems in use in India.

The ‘suranga’ is an adit dug laterally into a hill face to access ground water. The adit provides access to clean water all year round. This ancient form of irrigation was once common in the past but is only actively in use in a handful of places today.

Richard recently returned from India after a visit to a remote area south of Goa. Water journalist and suranga expert Shree Padre said:  “Richard is very keen to know more and more on the academic side of surangas. Though he was in a country that he hasn't visited or closely known earlier, I was very well impressed by his zeal to know more about these water harvesting structures and his level of grasping. With his expertise in carbon dating, he hopes to throw more light on the history of this traditional system by collecting soil samples from centuries old abandoned tanks. What lingers my mind is his comment : "the flora and fauna inside and nearby surangas are of immense interest and maybe a subject for a further study."

Dr Darren Crook and Sudhir Tripathi from the University of Hertfordshire are also part of the project team and the research is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Date: 17 January 2013

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