Geography – Rivers & Drainage System of India


Rivers & Drainage System of India

The flow of water through channels is called drainage. The network of such channels is known as drainage system. On the basis of origin, Indian drainage system is divided into – Himalayan rivers and peninsular rivers.

  1. Himalayan Rivers

  • The major Himalayan rivers are the Ganga, the Indus and the Brahmaputra.
  • These rivers are very long compared to the rivers of South India.
  • They are called perennial rivers as they are fed by both rainfall and the melting of snow.
  1. Indus River System

  • It is also known as Sindhu River.
  • Total length is 2880 km.
  • Source – Kailash Range, Tibet near Mansarovar Lake.
  • Destination – Arabian Sea.
  • Panchnad – Jhelum (Vitasta), Chenab (Chandrabhaga), Ravi (Iravati), Beas (Bipasha) and Sutlej (Satadru).
Jhelum Verinag Uri
Chenub Bara Lacha Pass Dul Hasti
Ravi Rohtang Pass
Beas Rohtang Pass
Sultuj Near Mansarovar Govind Sagar/Bhakra Nangal Dam
  1. Ganga River System

  • Source – Gangotri glacier near Gomukh, Uttrakhand in the Kumaon Himalaya.
  • It is named as Bhagirathi here. At Devprayag, Alakananda joins Bhagirathi and becomes Ganga.
  • In Allahabad it is joined by the Yamuna, the largest tributary of Ganga, rising from Yamunotri glacier.
  • Left bank tributaries – Ramganga, Gandak, Kosi, Gharghara, Gomati.
  • Right bank tributaries – Son.
  • Kosi, a tributary, is flood prone. So it is known as “Sorrow of Bihar”.
  • Ganga flows through Uttrakhand, UP, MP, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand  and WB.
  • It bifurcates into Bhagirathi and Hooghly in WB and Padma-Meghna in Bangladesh.
  • Ganga-Brahmaputra delta is the largest delta in the world.
  • Total length of Ganga – 2530 km.
  • Ganga Basin area is 9,51,600 sq. km.
  • The plain area from Haridwar to Ganga’s mouth is fertile with alluvial soil.
  1. Bramhaputra
  • Source – Chemayung-Dung glacier near Mansarovar in Tibet.
  • In Tibet it is known as Tsangpo.
  • It turns SW near Namcha Barwa in Arunachal Pradesh and enters India as Dihang
  • Near Sadiya, Dihang enters into India where Dibang and Lohit join it to make Brahmaputra.
  • Finally it enters into Bangladesh as Jamuna and meets Padma to drain into Bay of Bengal.
  • Right bank tributaries – Subansiri, Kameng, Manas.
  • Left bank tributaries – Buri Dihang, Kameng.
  • Majuli is a large riverine island of Brahmaputra.
  • Total length of Brahmaputra is 2900 km.
  1. Peninusular River Systems

  • Peninsular rivers are both west and east flowing.
  • Narmada and Tapi drain into Arabian Sea where Mahanadi, Godavari, Cauvery and Krishna drain into Bay of Bengal.
  • East flowing rivers form delta where west flowing rivers don’t form delta.
  • Narmada and Tapi are rift valleys.
Mahanadi Dandakaranya, Raipur, Chattishgarh Hirakud Largest and longest river of Odisha
Godavari Trimbak plateau, Nasik, Maharashtra Largest river of South India
Known as South Ganga
Krishna Mahabaleswar in Maharashtra Nagarjuna Sagar Tributaries – Tungabhadra, Koyna, Ghatprabha, Bhima, Dudhganga.
Kaveri Tala Cauvery, Western Ghat Shivasamudram Waterfalls
Narmada Amarkantak Plateau, MP Narmada Valley project Duan Dhar falls. Flows through rift valley between Vindhayan and Satpura range
Tapi Multai in Betul district, MP Ukai Known as the twin of Narmada


Inter-State River Disputes – Rivers & Drainage System of India

Cauvery Water Dispute

  • Cauvery is an interstate river that originates in Karnataka and flows through Tamil Nadu and Puducherry before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.
  • In 1892, the Cauvery agreement was made between Mysore state and other Princely states
  • In 1924, this was renewed for another 50 years
  • 1970, The Tamil Nadu government asked the Central government to set up a tribunal and in the same year the Tamil Nadu Farmers Association filed a civil suit in the Supreme Court.
  • The Cauvery Water disputes tribunal was set up in the year 1990
  • The Tribunal passed an interim in the year 1991 ordering the state of Karnataka to release 205 thousand million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu from it’s reservoirs.
  • Karnataka refused to obey the order and after 16 years of hearing, another judgement was passed allocating 419 thousand million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu.
  • Karnataka again refused to obey the order and a case of contempt of court was filed against the state.
  • The matter is still under judicial view.

Satluj Yamuna Link Canal Issue

  • The dispute started when the state of Haryana was seperated from Punjab in the year 1966
  • To enable Haryana to use its share of water from Sutlej and Beas, the construction of a canal was planned in the year 1982.
  • The construction was stopped in 1986 due to protests from Punjab
  • Haryana approached the Supreme Court for completing the construction of the canal in 2002. The court ordered Punjab to finish construction in 12 months.
  • In 2004, Punjab assembly passed a water sharing act which scrapped all its water sharing dues.
  • The Supreme Court declared this act as Unconstitutional 12 years later in 2016
  • The Centre has opted to act as a mediator in this case.

Leave a Reply