Somewhere in Aurangabad....

Ingenuity and lessons from history have helped the Maulana Azad College campus in Aurangabad remain well-watered, even as the entire Marathwada region continues to suffer one of the worst droughts in its history.
The college has managed the remarkable feat of maintaining its own round-the-clock water supply for its students and staff, and has also helped out citizens, otherwise left high and dry by the civic administration, through rain-water harvesting inspired by a 16th century slave king's engineering marvel. The 53-year-old institute, also known as Dr Rafiq Zakaria Campus after its founder, has a campus-wide web of water channels that trap rain water and direct it towards the wells in the premises. The average daily requirement is nearly 1.25 lakh litres for over 11,000 students, 1,000 staff members and four acres of gardens.
The project had begun in 2005, conceptualised by campus secretary and college principal Maqdoom Farooqui, then HOD department of geology PS Kulkarni and incumbent HOD department of geology Mohammed Abdul Malik.
Malik said, “We tried replicating the idea of Malik Amber, a slave king and a contemporary of Mughal emperor Jehangir, and has the credit of designing Panchakki, the 17th century water mill. It is widely recognised as an engineering marvel since it is run by an underground water channel and its source is located 8 km away . Based on this, we laid a network of underground hurdle-laid trenches, all connected to a collecting pond. The water travels through the campus, and we collect the treated filtrate from the wells located across the premises. The idea has worked out and today , we are independent of any external water source.“
Explaining the working, Farooqui said, “We took advantage of the natural inclination of ground level the college has and laid a huge network of trenches across the 30-acre campus, which lead to a collecting pond.After the pond fills to the brim, the water spills into the eco-friendly filter beds. The water passes through sand and charcoal filter beds, and finally reaches a pit dug near the wells, in which the filtered water percolates.“
Farooqui said, “ In the past one decade, the campus has never had to purchase even a single litre of water from the civic body or private water tanker suppliers even during the continuous construction.“
The system, they say , is not as foolproof as the Panchakki. The trenches have to be cleaned every year to ensure smooth flow of water and prevent contamination.
Maulana Azad Educational Trust chairman and Padmashree Fatma Zakaria said, “Considering the spiralling groundwater levels in Marathwada since the last few decades, it is essential that we take steps towards self-sufficiency and harvest what water we get.“

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