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Nadi (small johad) in Laporiya village of Rajasthan.

Johad at Rithal village of Rohtak district of Haryana

A johad, also known as a pokhar or a percolation pond, is a community-owned traditional harvested rainwater storage wetland principally used for effectively harnessing water resources in the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, and western Uttar Pradesh of North India, that collects and stores water throughout the year, to be used for the purpose of recharging the groundwater in the nearby water wells, washing, bathing and drinking by humans and cattle.[1][2][3][4] Some johads also have bricked or stones masonry and cemented ghat (series of steps and/or ramp).[1][2][4]

Rainwater fills the pit. These are connected to other small pits like this. The extra rainwater is filled in the smaller pits. They are then used for cleaning, drinking and washing purposes.

Johads also cater to resident and seasonal migrant birds as well as wildlife animals from the nearby bani (forest). State fisheries departments also promote the use of these johads for raising fishes on contract basis for commercial fishing. Johads are often seen surrounded by embankment, with water well and trees around them. In many parts, specially in dry state of Rajasthan, the annual rainfall is very low (between 450 and 600 mm) and the water can be unpleasant to drink. Rainfall during July and August is stored in johads and used throughout the year. Johad in Haryanvi language and Rajasthani language are also called sarovar, taal and talab in Hindi language, and water pond or lake in English. A similar structure to a johads, called a khadin, consists of a very low and long earthen bund in the Jaisalmer district. Over 4,500 working johads in Alwar district and surrounding districts Rajasthan were revived by the NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh by Rajendra Singh. Haryana formed the Haryana State Waterbody Management Board to rejuvenate and manage 14,000 ponds in the state, including the development of 60 lakes in Delhi NCR falling within the state.[5][6]

Smaller cemented water tanks called taankas in parts of Rajasthan are also sometimes mistakenly referred to as johads. Concretized rain-fed taanka and canal-fed diggi are different from the johads.

Religious significance[edit]

Matsya Purana, a Hindu text, has a Sanskrit language shloka (hymn), which explains the importance of reverence of ecology in Hinduism. It states, "A pond equals ten wells, a reservoir equals ten ponds, while a son equals ten reservoirs, and a tree equals ten sons."[7]

Gramadevata (village deity) temples and Jathera shrines of pitrs for ancestral worship are usually found on the banks of johads, which also have ghats for the sacred rituals, bathing and other religious, social and practical human activities.

Johad wetlands[edit]

Type of construction[edit]

Johads can be of several types, such as dug out in areas to which rainwater can be easily channeled. Alternatively, simple mud and rubble barrier check dams may be built across the contour of a slope with a high embankment on the three sides while the fourth side is left open for the rainwater to enter. These catch and conserve rainwater, leading to improved percolation and groundwater recharge. They are very common in most villages of states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and the Thar desert of Rajasthan in India.[1][2][3][4]


2019 Atal Bhujal Yojana (Atal groundwater scheme), a 5 years (2020-21 to 2024-25) scheme costing INR 6 billion (US$85 million) for managing demand side with village panchayat level water security plans entailing johad rejuvenation (wetland) and groundwater recharge, was approved for implementation in 8,350 water-stressed villages across 7 states, including Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.[8]

Haryana Johads rejuvenation[edit]

Johad at Rithal village of Rohtak district of Haryana

In 2007, Haryana Irrigation Department spent INR435.26 crore (INR4.3 billion or US$7 million) to renovate and restore water bodies in the state for the conservation of water, recharging of ground water, preservation of environment and enhancement of tourism.[9] A study by the Panjab University found 60 fish species of 19 families, 11 commercial and 6 exotic species, in the water bodies of Haryana.[10] Water bodies remain under risk from encroachment, shrinking of catchment area and pollution.[11] In 2010, India's first ever diatom data basing was done in ten different water bodies at ten different stations in Haryana.[12] A 2015 study of 24 water bodies of Haryana, found 39 morphologically different types of diatoms.[13]

In 2016, the Government of Haryana announced a plan to map the district-wise map of water flow and to create a database of all water bodies within the state.[14] These water bodies have contributed to the economic development through fisheries in the landlocked state of Haryana. Haryana ranks second in India in terms of the average annual fish production per unit area in the country with 7000 kg per hectare average annual fish production.[15] Fish production has increased from 600 tonnes in 1966-67 at the time of formation of Haryana to 121000 tonnes of fish during the year 2015-16, providing a livelihood to over 30000 families in fisheries sector.[16]

On 1 November 2017, Chief Minister of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar announced that Government of Haryana will form the Haryana State Waterbody Management Board to rejuvenate and manage 14,000 ponds in Haryana by digging the silt out every year. This includes development of 50 to 60 lakes in National Capital Region falling within the Haryana state.[5][6]

As of 2020, Government of Haryana is reviving various johads of Gurugram. In June 2020, for the revival of pond at Gwal Pahari, the estimates were being prepared to undertake erection of boundary wall, building a walking track around the johad, clearing of bushes and planting of trees and to connect the seasonal rivulet to the johad to ensure it retains water year around.[17]

In 2021, Haryana will undertake a survey based on 1957 revenue records and satellite survey to identify the ponds, remove encroachments and among those in first phase rejuvenate 1868 ponds by the end of 2022 to use water from pond to irrigate 50 acre land per pond or targeted irrigation of total 93400 land from the rejuvenated ponds.[18]

Rajasthan Johads rejuvenation[edit]

Rajendra Singh, founder of Tarun Bharat Sangh NGO explaining the use of johad to the students of TERI University in Alwar district of Rajasthan

There was a severe drought in Alwar district in Rajasthan during 1985-86. In 1985, volunteers from the Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS), a voluntary organization led by Rajendra Singh, came to Alwar. The Alwar District had once thrived, but logging, mining, and other industrial activities resulted in land degradation that intensified flooding and droughts. The traditional water management system using johads was abandoned. TBS revived the tradition of building johads, an example of traditional technology that provided water for use and recharging ground water. Now smaller cemented johads are popularly known as tankas in most parts of the arid state of Rajasthan.[19][20]

The water revolution spread by tanki and johads in the Alwar district has spread far and wide. Now there are around 5,000 johads all over Rajasthan and this has greatly helped in reducing water shortage and improving water quality.

Similar water bodies[edit]

View of a tanki in Thathawata village in Rajasthan

Following are similar to the johads but are still distinct types of water bodies with specific differentiating features.


Taanka or Tanki is a rain-fed water storage in the arid areas of the Indian subcontinent, such as Rajasthan, specially in the bagar tract.


Diggi is a canal-fed water works for rural drinking water supply.[21] It is usually a purpose-dug open pond, smaller than the typical johad, often concretised to prevent the water loss.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Haruka Yanagisawa, 2015, Community, Commons and Natural Resource Management in Asia:
  2. ^ a b c Video: How India's 'Water Man' first revived a river and a village in Rajasthan,, 23 Mar 2015.
  3. ^ a b Amanda Suutari and Gerry Marten, Water Warriors: Rainwater Harvesting to Replenish Underground Water (Rajasthan, India), Jun 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Margaret Robertson, 2007, Sustainable Futures: Teaching and Learning: a Case Study Approach.
  5. ^ a b "Haryana to develop 50-60 small lakes, water bodies in NCR: Manohar Lal Khattar", Indian Express, 1 November 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Haryana to constitute pond management authority ", Business Standard, 1 November 2017.
  7. ^ Haryana mulls giving marks to class 12 students for planting trees, Hindustan Times, 26 July 2021.
  8. ^ Centre approves Rs 6,000 crore scheme to manage groundwater, Times of India, 24 December 2019.
  9. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Haryana".
  10. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Haryana".
  11. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Haryana Plus".
  12. ^ "Diatoms Atlas of Fresh Waters Bodies from Haryana (India) / 978-3-659-21699-2 / 9783659216992 / 3659216992".
  13. ^ "MORPHOLOGICAL STUDY OF DIATOMS IN 24 DIFFERENT WATER BODIES OF HARYANA, INDIA, Journal of Forensic and Texicology, Saini and Kushwaha, 2016, vol 16, number 1" (PDF).
  14. ^ "Haryana plans district-wise maps of water flow". Press Trust of India. 6 January 2016 – via Business Standard.
  15. ^ [ Haryana fisheries annual production average, July 2016]
  16. ^ "Haryana fisheries, July 2016". Archived from the original on 23 August 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  17. ^ Gurgaon ponds will return again and the greenery will dominate, Jagran, 3 August 2020.
  18. ^ [ , SYL water not available now preparations for irrigation from ponds in Haryana], Amar Ujala, 19 July 2021.
  19. ^ "50 people who could save the planet". The Guardian. 5 January 2008.
  20. ^ "Unquiet flows the water in this village". The Hindu. 15 April 2005. Archived from the original on 20 April 2005.
  21. ^ August 2010, On The brink: Water governance in the Yamuna river basin in Haryana Archived 6 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development, PEACE Institute Charitable Trust, page vi.