Many in the field are viewing it as a retro step but, the aboriginal Kolam farmers of Birsaipet-Kolamguda in Utnoor mandal in Adilabad opted to fall back on their ancient wisdom with regard to irrigating crops. Instead of going in for the individualistic bore well as a source of irrigation, the 35 Kolam families in this village decided to dig five open wells to collectively irrigate the 250 acres of their fields.

“Irrigating fields from open wells is a time tested method in these parts. We are sure these open wells will succeed where the bore wells failed,” says Kumra Raju, a young farmer, who also pointed out the failure of bore wells in providing sufficient water for irrigating the fields.

“The opportunity to dig open wells came our way through the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). We asked for five wells to be allotted to us and have already found good water sources in three of the four wells dug so far,” he adds.

The phenomenal success rate of locating water sources is also attributed to the ancient tribal wisdom in the field of agriculture and water dowsing. The Kolams did not depend upon the services of a geologist but used the ancient coconut method of dowsing water.

“A person is made to squat on a coconut placed on a steel plate like the roti making pan or griddle. If there is a good water source in the ground below him, the coconut and the person balanced on it will rotate rapidly,” explains Atram Sone Rao, of the traditional dowsing method of tribal people.

“The sources found through this method rarely go dry even in the peak of a summer. Some of the old open wells located on higher altitudes are still functional and yield water even in the harshest of summers,” claims Kumra Jangu, an elder from the tribe who guided the villagers in their endeavour.

The Kolams have not yet decided whether to pump water manually or mechanically from the new wells. “It will be discussed in the village soon,” reveals Raju.