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Pettiyum Parayum - Indigenous technology for irrigation, Kerala

Kuttanad is often called the rice bowl of Kerala. This natural and verdant granary has a unique topography and a fragile ecosystem that lies below the sea-level. The region, replete with vast paddy fields criss-crossed by numerous lakes, rivers and other water bodies, is protected from the sea water by dykes and bunds. The water that is blocked by the bunds can be channeled to the fields as and when required. Earlier this was done using paddle water wheels.

With the arrival of electricity another indigenous pumping mechanism was developed, the Pettiyum Parayum. Petti means a box and para a cylindrical measuring vessel. The components of this indigenous de-watering mechanism include an electric motor, a submerged vessel (para), and a rectangular box above the water. The fan inside the para is connected by a belt to a motor fixed inside the pump house. The water that is sucked in through the vessel flows out of the box whereby the contraption can be used to pump water from low lying areas into the backwaters. Fishes, that are trapped in this water, are caught using a net attached to the box, transforming this humble native engineering tool into a multi-utility wonder.