Sunday, November 22, 2015

Conjectures on Sri Lankan irrigation tank ecosystems and a tentative conclusion

The elucidation of the tank cascade system is a post-colonial phenomenon that allowed Sri Lankans to regain ownership of their vernacular landscape. 

Now that this has been accomplished the science of tank form and function needs to be advanced. How do these complex but seemingly simple structures work?

Part of the "science" of tanks has to consider the ethnic, spiritual, and religious outlook of the tank builders. Were tanks modeled on the human body as perceived by the ancients? Were tanks conceived in the context of a vasthu scheme adopted from Indian connections?

A tentative conclusion. 

The tanks, though still in use, are a relic of past civilizations. Neglect, agrochemicals, and silting over have transformed the tank environment. Changes in population dynamics (fewer people farming), cultivation methods (for example mechanized farming), and lifestyle, as well as benign interference by local and provincial government agencies translate to the conclusion that tank systems will not be returned to their former status. 

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