Notify Ancient Dhamapur Lake as Wetland

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Dhamapur Lake, is a Earthen dam constructed in 1530 by the villagers and Nagesh Desai who was Mandlik of the Vijaynagar dynasty. It is one of the biggest lake of the Sidhudurg District. Its present outreach is 125 acres while it is blissful with water all the year. It is a best example of traditional water harvesting system constructed in a way to benefit local villages. Among various unknown streamlets one streamlet traditionally known as “Bhurkhyacha Whal” (lat 16.04 long 73.59) is an old streamlet known since ancient time originating from mountain in Kalse feeds fresh water to Dhamapur lake. 

Topography & Construction: Design of Dhamapur Lake reflects geographical thoughtfulness. It is constructed between two hills of Dhamapur and Kalse Village. The site chosen at that time clearly indicates the vision to provide natural irrigation and drinking water to both the villages. The irrigation  is done through natural gravity as the villages are located at 4m. above MSL. As per the records of Gazetter of the Bombay Presidency – vol X (Ratnagiri and Sawantwadi) Dhamapur lake has a maximum depth of 37 1/2 feet. Height of the dam above lowest foundation is 11 m (36 ft) while the length is 271 m (889 ft). The volume content is 2,687 km3 (645 cu mi) and gross storage capacity is 2,867 km3 (688 cu mi).

The earthen dam constructed used natural materials with minimum processing and was built with primitive equipment available at that time. Unlike modern concrete dams which require sound foundation, this earthen dam was constructed to the adapted earth foundations. It is understood that the construction of earth dam used simple operation and was done with the rule-of-thumb.The earth fill was further protected by laterite stone pitching. This protected the earthen dam from erosion of the soil.

Famous temple “Bhagwati Mandir” was constructed on the top of the dam in 1531 on one side and the spillway to drain the overflow of water above the holding capacity of the dam is constructed on the other side. Near the spillway, there was old method of irrigation, which used to be constructed using Rice straw as fibre, Mud binding material,  “Trunks of Bhedla mad” used as pipes.The villagers used to construct this water bund-wall locally known as “Bandh” with these pipes placed at different heights with blocked water side. They used to open up pipes from the top to discharge water in channels that run through villages suppling water. The channels ended at “Karli” river. Villagers used to open up pipes at the lower levels as the water level used to drop. This system was recently replaced by the steel gates with concrete walls. Formed by damming a valley with an earthen bank, it holds water in all the year round. Area of zone of influence of Dhamapur Lake is 328.85 hectares out of which 21 % is forest, 72 % Agriculture, 5% Grassland and scrublands 2% Rural settlements.It recharges water wells in villages of Dhamapur and Kalse. Dhamapur Lake testifies to the intimate knowledge that ancient villagers had of the local climate, soil properties, geology, hydrology and ecology. They also testify to their technical knowledge, evident in the sluice gates they built to control water flow. Water was channelized till 5 kms till Hublichamal for irrigation by gravity through earthen channel,  known as Haran in local language.

Sustenance: The lake is now almost 500 years old and is still fully functional for its irrigation. In fact it now supplies water to the nearby Taluka place namely Malvan. Even when there was a sever draught in Maharashtra during 1973 to 1975, Dhamapur, Kalse and nearby villagers could use water for irrigation and drinking. Farmers continued their farming as usual even during this draught period.

Numerous failures of poorly designed earth embankments have happened in the past. But this lake with its earthen dam is fully time tested and has withstood even during the Koyna Earthquake in Dec 1967 having magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter scale with an epicentre of about 200 kms distance.Generally its found that faults in the earth get activated due to the construction of dam. But this Dhamapur lake dam has not triggered such reservoir induced seismicity. Hence tin last about 500 years no such tectonic activity is registered in this district due to this dam. This lake has helped the nearby villages to be rich in agriculture and their livelihood over centuries. None of the farmers in these villages have committed suicide for scarcity of water.

Research Papers and Wetland Survey: The flora and fauna of Dhamapur Lake is treasure of Mother Nature. Marsh Harrier travel all the way from Europe during the months of Nov-Dec. The endemic plants like memecylonranderiana are part of its ecology. Wax dart butterfly was reported on the banks of Dhamapur Lake for first time in Maharashtra.

=The study of physico-chemical status of Dhamapur lake published in 2012-13 mentions that all the parameters are within desirable limits of BIS specifications for drinking water.

=Dhamapur lake was studied in the year 2012 to understand seasonal variation in plankton diversity which holds the key role in designing the food web of aquatic ecosystem. During the study, 10 phytoplantons species & 7 zooplanktons species  were reported. Planktons not only serve as food for aquatic animal but also play an important role in maintaining the biological balance and quality of water.

=The Lake is surrounded by semi-evergreen forest which helps to maintain water table. On its bank the fresh wetland tree species like Barringtoniaacutungula which leaned on the surface of the water gives the beauty to the lake and controlled soil Erosion. The endemic species like Memeceylonranderiana is also found along the banks of the lake increase the importance and beautiful scenery of the lake and increase the tourism. During the wetland survey conducted in the year 2018 below mentioned flora and fauna were reported :

#Flora species – 193 species. 4 Rare Endangered, 26 Rare, and 1 Rare Endemic species

#Bird species – 123 species. 06 Near Threatened Bird Species, 1 Vulnerable bird Species, 13 Migratory Birds Species and 9 Rare Bird Species.

#Butterfly – 40 species.3 Schedule II Species, 3 schedule IV, 3 Endemic. Wax Dart species of Butterfly was Spotted for 1st time in Maharashtra state.

#Mammals – 8 species. Critical Endangered 1 species of Otter.

#Odonates - 23 species 2 Endemic to Western Ghat

AGRICULTURE: =Dhamapur lake have been providing water to crop like Paddy, Ragi and vegetable like Phaseolus, Brinjol, Chili, Gaurlik, Onion, Amaranthus, Radish. Now days the commercial crop like Sugarcane and fruit crop like Watermelon and Banana has been introduced in the adjoining areas of Dhamapur lake. =The Cash crop like Coconut, Areca nut, Mango, Cashew and Kokam has been cultivated in adjoining areas of the =Dhamapur Lake have been facilitating to increase the productivity and improved the economy of the area. =Vegetables, Grains, Fruits are sold in a local market to increase the economy and alleviate the poverty in the adjoining villages. = Villagers do traditional fishing in lake. Indigenous fish found in Dhamapur lake is a delicacy for local people. Fish seeds are released by Fisheries dept like Indian major carf, Katla, Rohu, Mrigal, in which yearly 3 ton fish yield is expected . Avg 26.50 hectare water body is used for fishing. In its back water area provides moist land to propagate seedlings of paddy. Biodiversity action plan report made by Mangrove Cell mentions Dhamapur lake as a large wetland which has potentials to be developed as a International Ramsar site.

Historical, Religious system of village and environment: Dhamapur village strong historical links have been proven by the discovery of ancient hero stones, sati stones along with the images of the deities indicating that Dhamapur has been here since at least the Shilahara period (c. 10th – 11th century CE). As mentioned in Kudaldeshkar Samagr Itihas a dam on Dhamapur lake was built in the year 1530. Dhamapur is referred as Sahmypur (सहम्यपूर) in Nerur village copperplate engraved (ताम्रपट्ट) deed of covenant (दानपत्र) of Emperor (सम्राट) Vijayaditya in the year  शके ६२२ (इ.स.७००). It states that on one side of the river is Walavali and on other side across the river is Sahmypur village. The existence of this man-made earthen dam has been enriched through many mythological stories. 1860 Gazetter Bombay presidency vol.X gives mythological reference that the lake used to gift gold on offerings of flowers by villagers in need. In the same Gazetter it is mentioned that , “The Marathas had large ship-building yeard at Malvan. But while they consumed much fine timber the rulers thought for the future and took steps to preserve the supply. The early valuable teak reserve in Dhamapur forest (adjoining Dhamapur Lake) were sown by the great Maratha legend Kanhoji Angre.in about 1680”.

The religious system of Dhamapur has a indigenious system of faith based on nature worship. This religious system is known as ‘Gavrathi”. It is believed – all living as well as non-living beings similarly visible and non-visible things live within the village boundaries. The religious systems is based on the ecological balance between man and natural environment. The deity found in  Dhamapur and Kalse village belong to old order (pre-Brahmanic) of religious system. For e.g. The ancient Sateri temple located at Dhamapur lake is a  earth goddesses and represent different forms of earth mostly fertile soil that are essential for agriculture. Especially the ant hill or varul is worshipped in the form of Sateri Goddess. Ancient villagers knew these ants can be our saviours in times of drought like the one parts of India are now experiencing. They knew that termite mounds which these insects build are indicators of nearby ground water. According o Varalimihira presence of termites ants indicates water source beneath the earth. The anthills are present near the water sources.

View short film made by Vivek , a student of NID  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULW9O2I5LGc