Codification of Customary Practices of Kuhl Irrigation
Riwaj-i- abpashi is a unique text and documentation,
encyclopedic in nature which contains detailed information
of orally transmitted knowledge regarding local irrigation
practices and customs primarily around Kuhl irrigation systems.
The Kuhls of Kangra- The Kuhl systems of Kangra are centuries old community managed traditional irrigation system. It is a network of gravity fed irrigation systems that diverts water from perennial sources of water such as rivers and springs through small hamlets into the fields and provides water for irrigation, livestock and household use.
Riwaj-i-Abpashi is the first codification of customary practices which was undertaken by the British in 1850 and it was revised in 1915. The codification included the origin of Kuhls, methods of construction, inter village rights and responsibilities, water sharing practices.
Kohli’s are currently custodians of the Kuhls. They manage annual maintenance of kuhls with community participation, resolve water conflicts and refer to Riwaj-i-Abpashi or oral histories to ensure appropriate allocation of water
Kohli’s record the regular attendance of people coming for participation in the annual maintenance of Kuhls. There is meticulous documentation to avoid any conflicts over water sharing.
The custodians of Riwaj-i-Abpashi at the village level are the 'Patwaris' who are the local land revenue officers.
For centuries Kuhl irrigation systems are flowing as the lifeline of agrarian economies in districts of Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. In spite of various interventions in the Kuhls, Riwaj-i Abpashi and community ownership have demonstrated resilience of the age old system