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Neeruganti -
Water Managers

Karnataka is renowned for its impressive array of rainfed reservoirs, built as early as c. 1055 and maintained with traditional wisdom and expertise ever since.

The Neeruganti or Water Managers have overseen the management and upkeep of these tanks for generations. ensuring equitable distribution of water to the community. Drawing on their holistic understanding of the area's water systems, rainfall patterns, and irrigation requirements, the Neeruganti collaborated with village elders to supply water to all.


For centuries, the waters from the tanks have breathed life into the ecosystems that sustain rural indigenous communities, and the Neeruganti have been tending to this life force. Under their care, these lakes sustained the lives of all those connected to them.

As Venkatappa says, “If there is no control by the Neeruganti, there will be no water in the tank and no crop for the farmers.” While the cascading system of tanks are known as the lifeline of this region, the Neeruganti are its life force.

Watch this film that showcases the Neeruganti, who have maintained the network of water reservoirs in Karnataka for centuries, preserving rural indigenous knowledge and ensuring the sustainability of community water resources.

However, as land use patterns shift and agriculture becomes more commercialised, their livelihoods and roles are rapidly declining. Now, it falls upon the community and other actors to act collectively to safeguard the shared water resources, guided by the wisdom possessed by indigenous knowledge keepers like the Neeruganti.


Developed by Native Picture for the Promise of Commons Initiative with Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)

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