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When ‘Bhistis’ carried water to homes in leather bags!


Udaipur : Recently, the Ministry of Urban development has asked  Udaipur Smart City Limited to work out on a proposal of supplying 24-hours of water for the entire city. The existing system is alternate day supply of drinking water not only for the walled area but the entire city. The suggestion reminds veterans of the old days specially the pre-pipe era when water was considered to be a precious commodity and men of certain community carried it on their back to deliver at door steps in the interior parts.

“ In pre-pipe days,  the water had to be transported mostly manually from the source i.e lake, well, river to the place of use-kitchen, bathrooms, (non-flush) toilets. Naturally consumers valued this labor-intensive commodity” reminisces Pushpendra Singh Ranawat, a retired  professor. The per capita consumption of water was less. “ As children we would hardly use more than two buckets of water (~20-30 liters) per day. With the advent of piped water and flush toilets the per capita consumption of water shot up drastically. Population explosion added to the resource drain” Ranawat says. Tourists are believed to waste considerable amount of water, hence school children and hospitality industry should spread awareness regarding non-wastage of water. Recycling of water has also started these days, he adds.

when-bhistis-carried-water-to-homes-in-leather-bags“ There were no piped water supply those days, water was transported, say from Pichola or a Bawdi, in ‘MASAK’a hide/ leather water container carried on short bullocks or on shoulders, for short haul, by Bhishties. The Bhoi community was also responsible for water need management and they were held in great esteem and were addressed as Bhoirajji or Bhoyanji” SK Verma, a retired officer of the Indian Forest Service said. Water was needed for washing cooking & eating utensils, so there was fairly large quantity of water needs of “CLASS-II” water. Class-I water was used for drinking & personal use. So the water storage tanks were essentially “Storage Tanks” to augment the Class-II water resources rather than for any conservation work. First water pipeline & public tap was a big event for Udaipur in 1931, Verma said.

“ The piped water has increased the water consumption but natural. In our Haveli on Bapna Street, I recall that in 50’s, a Bhisti use to bring water from Pichola in leather bags. The water was considered very valuable commodity. The utensils were cleaned with kitchen ash i.e dry cleaned..! Maids use to take clothes to pichola for washing and her own bathing, so water could be managed better in Havelis” commander Pratap Singh Mehta, a retired naval officer claimed.


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