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Über dieses Buch

The book presents geomorphological studies of the major river basins – the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra and their tributaries. Besides major basins, the book explores peninsular rivers and other rivers state-by-state. All types of rivers, i.e. snow-fed, rain-fed and groundwater-fed rivers are explained together in geological framework.

Rivers are lifeline and understanding of the rivers, their dynamics, science and socio-economic aspect is very important. However, different sources provide different data base for rivers. But a book which explains all major rivers of a country at a single place was not yet available. This book is the first book of its kind in the world which provides expert opinion on all major rivers of a country like India. This book complements works in these areas for the last two to three decades on major rivers of India by eminent professors and scientists from different universities, IITs and Indian research institutions.

The information presented in the book would appeal to a wider readership from students, teachers to researchers and planners engaged in developmental work and also to common people of the society concerned with awareness about rivers.



Concept of Rivers: An Introduction for Scientific and Socioeconomic Aspects

Rivers, our lifeline have served as a way of life for many ancient civilizations. There are varieties of rivers in the world depending on the climate, tectonics and physiography. India exhibits different types of rivers such as snow fed, groundwater fed, and rain fed located in the Himalayas, Peninsular Plateau, and Ganga Plain and so the rivers have been classified on various criteria. These natural resource provide hydroelectric power, fertile soil, and water for the survival of society and also to the agrarian economy of India. River related scientific terminologies and geomorphic features have been described to understand the rivers in a better way. The river-related problems such as impact of climate change, river-borne hazards, and the river linking have been described in brief.

Dhruv Sen Singh

Rivers in Ancient India

India is the land of rivers. These were not treated merely as a flow of water or as a drain. The Nadī Sūkta of the Rigveda highlights them as mother and goddesses. As the water itself was regarded as the most powerful means of purity in Indian culture, rivers got honor to be the source of purification of all types of sins. Ancient Rishis constructed their Ashramas and started teaching on its banks which developed as educational centers. Many tīrthas and temples were built on its banks. The ancient lawgivers made strict rules for keeping the water of these rivers pure.

D. P. Tewari

Eternal Relation of Human Emotions and Rivers in Hindi Literature

Rivers—‘The rich source of water’ is the basic need of life. We cannot think about the life on earth without water. The life of human being, animals, and the plants depends on water. Just because of this, all human civilizations started on the bank of rivers. As a human being, when we started to speak and understand language, invented different scripts to write, we expressed our feeling toward the river. That is why every culture, civilization, folk, and literature had a strong bonding to the rivers. In Indian context, rivers are the mother of human being. Rivers are integral part of Indian culture, civilization, religion, and literature. Hindi literature depicts the river’s role in our life. During ancient period, man was totally dependent on rivers for food, hygiene, grains, and other daily needs. That is why these rivers became the symbol of religious power and belief. Rivers were not only the medium to improve the life but also the means to maintain the heavenly life (Parlok). Even today, “Kumbha” the largest religious gathering of world is held at Prayag (Allahabad) during the month of Maagh (January–February) in which millions of people, not only Indians but foreigners also, gather to get rid of their sins and have divine blessings. This coexistence and bonding have been expressed in very emotional, realistic, strong, and artistic manner during all the stages of Hindi literature.

Hemanshu Sen

Landscape of the Indus River

Indus River, one of the largest rivers in the world, originates from Mount Kailas and flows through Ladakh Himalaya. The river derives its hydrological budget from melting glaciers, westerlies, and Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM), where most of floods in the river occur during precipitation regime of ISM. Before the final sink to Indus Fan, fourteen major tributaries contribute to maintain its discharge and sediment load. Climatically, Ladakh Himalaya experiences arid to semiarid climatic conditions, where the mean annual rainfall decreases from NW to NE Ladakh. Geomorphologically, in the most eastern part, near Nyoma, Indus flows through a rather gentler gradient of 0.75 m/km that increases to tenfold 7.2 m/km from Mahe to Uphsi and then flattens in Leh Valley, where the gradient decreases to 1.8 m/km, and finally downstream from Nimu to Dah Hanu, the average gradient is 4 m/km. Sand ramps are ubiquitous in Leh Valley whose chronology suggests that the accretion of eolian sediments started before 44 ka and continued up to ~8 ka with dominant arid phase between 25 and 17 ka. The river aggradation took place in the wetter phases between ~83 ka and 50–20 ka, followed by incision. The bedrock incision took place at the rate of 2.2 ± 0.9 mm/a. The strath terraces formation seems to be controlled by rapid incision in the western syntaxis zone of Himalaya and tectonics of the deforming Indus Molasse.

Anil Kumar, Pradeep Srivastava

The Ganga River: A Summary View of a Large River System of the Indian Sub-Continent

The Ganga River is one of the largest rivers in the world supporting a population of 500 million people in India alone. Originating in the mighty Himalaya, the river traverses through more than 2500 km and drains through the vast Gangetic alluvial plains before falling into the Bay of Bengal. The river is joined by several tributaries from the Himalaya as well as from the cratonic highlands and is therefore described as a river with two-hinterland systems. Significant spatio-temporal variability in morphology, hydrology, and sediment transport characteristics in different stretches of the river makes this a complex system. In addition, river dynamics and floods cause severe destruction of life and property, particularly in the eastern plains. Large population and severe pollution in certain stretches have made this river extremely vulnerable, and it requires an enormous effort for restoration.

S. K. Tandon, R. Sinha

Ganga: The Arterial River of India

Ganga alluvial plain is one of the most densely populated regions of the world. It is drained by large snow-fed and small groundwater-fed rivers having different sources of water and sediment. Ganga, the main river of this plain, is formed by the confluence of Bhagirathi River with the Alaknanda River at Devprayag in Uttarakhand Himalaya and after travelling a distance of about 2525 km, drains into Bay of Bengal where it forms a huge Sunderban Delta. It is the most sacred river of India. The important tributaries are Ramganga, Yamuna, Gomati, Ghaghara, Son, Great Gandak, Burhi Gandak and Kosi. It exhibits braid bar, lateral bar, natural levee and various river terraces and is characterized by narrow incised channel confined within very wide valley in direct response to the climate, tectonics and sea level changes. The sediments and water of this river supports the culture and agriculture of the Ganga Plain as it is a perennial source of water. However, from last few decades the interference of man in the natural cycle of the river has polluted the river, increased the sediment load, reduced the natural recharge area, reduced the water holding capacity and floodplain of the river and completely disturbed its biodiversity and thus increased the river-borne hazard by ignoring the law of nature and scientific facts.

Pramod Singh, Dhruv Sen Singh, Uma Kant Shukla

The Brahmaputra River

The Himalayan rivers deliver about one-tenth of global particulate and dissolved materials to the ocean from only about 1.6% of the global drainage area indicating very high physical and chemical erosion rates and play a dominant role in controlling the sedimentary and geochemical budgets of the global ocean and regulating the global climate. The Brahmaputra River is the most significant among the Himalayan rivers in terms of supply of sediment and dissolved materials. Its 2900-km long stretch and 636 thousand-km2 drainage area lies in very contrasting climatic and geological regions. It originates in arid and cold region of Tibet and has significant drainage in warm and heavy precipitating zones such as Mishmi Hills, Naga-Patkoi ranges and the Shillong Plateau. It has very gentle slope in Tibet to very steep slope in the Eastern Syntaxis where it has created deepest (>5000 m) gorge of the world. Both physical and chemical erosions in the basin are highly variable with lower rates in the Tibet to very high around the Eastern Syntaxis. The Eastern Syntaxis seems to be the hot spot of physical and chemical weathering and for associated CO2 consumption, which are driven by the higher stream power of the Brahmaputra in this region. Intense and focussed erosion in the Eastern Syntaxis generates about half of the total sediment delivered by the Brahmaputra to the ocean. High sediment yield from this region seems to be responsible for the higher peaks of the Namche Barwa and the Gyala Peri and the knick point in the Tsangpo upstream the Eastern Syntaxis due to isostatic rebound.

Sunil Kumar Singh

Alakhnanda–Bhagirathi River System

India has large numbers of rivers where human civilizations have flourished in the past. There has been a change in the landform caused due to interplay of climate overtime, which led to distribution of human settlement. The Himalayas is the birthplace of many important rivers which are perennial in nature. There are three main rivers and their tributeries in Himalayas: Brahmaputra, Ganges and Indus, which are responsible for shaping up of the Himalayan landforms and responsible for formation of Indo-Brahmaputra-Gangetic Alluvial Plain. The Ganges is a very long river in the Indian subcontinent with many tributaries, and it occupies the central part of the three main river systems. The Ganges and its tributaries are a typical example of antecedent rivers, which are going across the Himalayan range through primary geologic structures and post-date both metamorphism and development of collision-related structures. The river system has originated within the upper Higher Himalayan Crystallines (HHC); however, a few tributaries have their origin from Tethyan Sedimentary Zone close to Indo-China border. These tributaries cross Malari Fault or Martoli Fault which is also known as the South Tibetan Detachment System (STDS). This fault demarcates the boundary between Tethyan Sedimentary Zone and upper Higher Himalayan Crystallines (Vaikrita Group) and also seldom defines as Dar-Martoli Fault.

Sandeep Singh

River Ramganga: A Less Discussed Tributary of Ganga River

The Ramganga is major tributary of Ganga River, and it is the snow- and rainwater-fed river. Ramganga originated from Himalayan region, but the major portion covered in the alluvial terrain shows that the gradient and the flow of the river play an important role in controlling the river morphology, which provide a base for the agricultural development. In India, the total utilizable water resource is about 1,123 BCM. The average annual surface runoff generated by rainfall and snowmelt estimated about 1869 BCM (Central Water Commission annual report 2006-07, pp 2–3, 2006-07). In the same way, Ramganga River is also a main water resource of western UP, which is helping the society in different ways, as it provides water resources for the groundwater development, agricultural development, and in the development of business cities (Moradabad, Kannauj, etc.). Moreover, the water of the Ramganga River is used for the generation of hydroelectricity and irrigation for the farmers by the Ramganga Embankment Dam.

Ajai Mishra, Shalini Verma, Daya Shankar Singh

The Yamuna River: Longest Tributary of Ganga

Yamuna is the main and the longest right bank tributary of river Ganga. It is a snow-fed, braided river which rises from Yamunotri glacier near Banderpoonch peak of the higher Himalaya. After travelling a distance of about 1370 km through Ponta Sahib, Karnal, Panipat, Sonipat, New Delhi, Mathura, Agra, Etawah, Kalpi, Hamirpur and Mau, it joins the Ganga River at Allahabad. The Gambhir, Chambal, Sind, Betwa, Ken, Hindon, Karwan, Sirsa, Arind, Gambhir and Chambal are important tributaries. It is the only major river of India which receives the water and sediments from all physiographic features of India such as the Himalaya, Ganga Plain and the Peninsular Plateau.

Nishat, Dhruv Sen Singh

The Gomati River: Lifeline of Central Ganga Plain

Gomati is the sixth order groundwater-fed tributary of Ganga River and lifeline of the Central Ganga Plain region. The total catchment area of the Gomati River basin is more than 30,000 km2. It has three regional geomorphic surfaces T0, T1, and T2. The alluvium of the Gomati River basin is very fertile and favorable for all type of seasonal crop, i.e., Rabi, Kharif and Jayad. The monsoon season plays a major role in the water and sediment supply of the Gomati River. Urbanization, industrialization, and deforestation are adversely affecting the qualitative and quantitative changes of the water of the Gomati River. The pollution level of the Gomati River has already reached the critical limit and a water quality does not match with the drinking water standard of WHO. At present, Gomati River is on alarming stage not only for pollution but for its own existence as well and needs proper management and action.

Anjani K. Tangri, Dhirendra Kumar, Dhruv Sen Singh, Chetan Anand Dubey

Ghaghara River System—Its Current Status and Value to Society

Ghaghara River is a tributary of Ganga River. This river originates near Lake Mansarovar in Tibetan Plateau. It joins the Sharda River in India at Brahma Ghat after travelling through the Himalayas in Nepal. The origin of Ghaghara River lies in the glaciers of Mapchachungo near Mansarovar Lake at an elevation of 4800 m. The Ghaghara River has a catchment of 127,950 km2. Spread over India and Nepal, out of which about 55% lies in Nepal and remaining 45% lies in India. Average annual water yield due to the rainfall in Ghaghara basin for River Ghaghara is reported to be 94,400 million m. The ground water level data of the Ghaghara basin districts reveals that range of ground water level is from 0.91 to 8.58 m bgl in pre-monsoon and 0.4–7.46 m bgl in post-monsoon season. The Ghaghara plains are underlain by thick loose alluvial sediments deposited by the River Ghaghara and its tributaries. The surface slopes towards south-eastwards except near river banks. Geomorphologically, the region exhibits upland terrace surface, river valley terrace surface, present-day river channel with narrow flood plains, natural levee, and point-bar deposits. All these geomorphic features are made up of alluvium of different ages and depositional in nature. The irrigation in the Ghaghara basin is provided by the Sarada, Sarada-Sahayak, and the Saryu canal systems. In general, entire Ghaghara basin is affected by floods, but Gorakhpur, Deoria, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Siddhartha Nagar, Mau, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Azamgarh, Ballia, Gonda, Bahraich districts are more prone to floods. The severity of floods along Ghaghara may be understood by the fact that length of marginal embankments along Ghaghara is about 586.77 km. The Ghaghara basin at present although does not experience any major global environmental issues such as ozone depletion, global warming, and acid rains. However, due to increased demand for resources; changing land-use patterns, load on air, water and land; rapid urbanization; migration to urban areas; Increased and concentrated generation of pollution and wastes; greater need and attention on increasing industrial and agricultural productivity could marginalize environmental priorities of the basin.

Rajiva Mohan

The Rapti River: Odyssey from Nepal to India

A river is system which forms a unique way of representation where it flows from its origin point till it meets another river or debouches into sea or ocean. The rivers in Indian system have either their origin from mountainous terrain, foothills, alluvial plains or peninsular parts. The rivers originating from hilly regions and making their path in alluvial plains have complex nature of landscapes. The Rapti River in this context has unique manifestations of landforms, geomorphic set-up, water transport and erosion capacity, huge floodplain deposits and sedimentological associations. Along with this, the river is identified for various channel geomorphic indices and neo-tectonic activities. The river is also recognized for its catastrophic activities such as floods in the Ganga Plain and landslides in hilly regions of Nepal. Thus, with the differential approach of positive and negative paradigms, the Rapti River has salient features to study for natural resources managements, development projects and geological and geomorphic applications. In the present works, the Rapti River has been explored from its origin to confluence to initiate an understanding for its odyssey and manifestations during its traverse. The study shows the varying facets of the channel morphology, natural hazard dynamics, landform changes and tectonic perturbations of fluvial system.

Biswajeet Thakur, Dhruv Sen Singh

The Chhoti Gandak River: Parinirvan Place of Gautam Buddha

Chhoti Gandak is a meandering groundwater-fed river which originates in the terai area of Ganga Plain in the Maharajganj district of Uttar Pradesh. After travelling a distance of about 250 km, it drains into the Ghaghara River near Gothani in Siwan district of Bihar. It is one of the best studied river basins of India. The drainage basin parameters of this river were carried out for the mitigation of flood and groundwater recharge. The characteristics of the drainage basin, discharge of the river and sediment load are in direct response to the climate and tectonics which evolve the fluvial landforms. The morphometric indices indicate active tectonics in this river basin. The analysis explains that the management and development of water resource and its planning should be done in the light of drainage basin characteristics and morphometric parameters. This paper describes the multiproxy analysis of the Chhoti Gandak River which are important for better planning and mitigation of the fluvial hazards in the Chhoti Gandak River Basin which have both academic and social implications.

Amit Kumar Awasthi, Vikram Bhardwaj, Shailendra Kumar Prajapati, Dhruv Sen Singh

The Son, A Vindhyan River

The Son River originates in the Amarkantak hills of Maikal range at an elevation of ~600 m in Madhya Pradesh and then flows through the north of Kaimur plateau of Vindhya ranges. This river is an important tributary of the Ganga River, and after flowing through the parts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar states, it joins the Ganga River on its southern bank near Patna. The major tributaries of the Son River emerge in the highlands and flow in a northward direction to join the main river. The major tributaries of the river are the Rihand, North Koel, Gopad, Banas and Kanhar rivers. The Son River drains through the Gondwana and Vindhyan Supergroups, Mahakoshal Group, Central Granitic Complex (CGC) and Quaternary alluvium. Five widespread alluvial formations have been proposed by others in the Son River valley, namely the Sihawal, Khunteli, Patpura, Baghor and Khetaunhi, in the oldest to youngest sequence. The Son River water has been found good to excellent in quality for irrigation and also suitable for drinking purposes. Many dams, reservoirs and hydropower generation plants occur on the Son River and its tributaries; these resources are serving for irrigation and electricity generation in the Son River valley. It has been reported that the hydropower generation has been decreasing in the last three decades for the Son River valley.

Chinmaya Maharana, Jayant K. Tripathi

The Great Gandak River: A Place of First Republic and Oldest University in the World

The Great Gandak is a snow-fed braided river which originates from the Nhubine Himal glacier. It is a major left bank tributary of Ganga River. After travelling a distance of about 300 km through West Champaran, East Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, Siwan, Saran, Vaishali and Hajipur in the alluvial plain region, it joins the river Ganga at Hajipur near Patna. Locally, it is known as Narayani because it brings the Shaligram known as Lord Vishnu in Hindu religion. The Gandak River canals provide the water for irrigation to India and Nepal. The valley of the Great Gandak is very wide, and at some places, it splits into two and then rejoins. It causes flood and lateral erosion almost every year and affects the society. The oldest university of the world Vaishali and Nalanda and the first republic of the world Vaishali are located at its bank.

Dhruv Sen Singh

The Burhi Gandak: Most Sinuous River

Burhi Gandak is a left bank tributary of Ganga which originates in the terai area of Chautarwa Chaur near Bhishambharpur, West Champaran district of Bihar. It is known as Sikrana in its upper reaches and receives the water from Masan and Ramrekha rivers. Sikrana is known as Burhi Gandak after the confluence of Dhanauti River near Motihari. It is one of the highly sinuous rivers of India. It exhibits point bars, natural levee, oxbow lake, meander scars, and abandoned channels. It is characterised by narrow channel confined within wide valley. Flooding is a recurring hazard in the Burhi Gandak river basin. After traveling a distance of about 400 km through West Champaran, East Champaran, Mehsi, Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, and Khagaria, it joins Ganga River near Gogri Jamalpur in Bihar.

Dhruv Sen Singh, Abhay Kumar Tiwari, Pawan Kumar Gautam

The Dynamic Kosi River and Its Tributaries

The Kosi River is known as one of the most dynamic river systems. Even smaller interfan rivers joining the Kosi River at downstream reaches are also characterised by frequent channel migration. Avulsion process is responsible for dynamic nature of these rivers. An in-depth process understanding of such geomorphic processes is required to manage flood hazards along aggrading river systems. New conceptual advancement in geomorphic studies supported with significant enhancement in remote sensing and surveying techniques will help to develop future strategies for sustainable management of such dynamic rivers.

Vikrant Jain, Rakesh Kumar, Rahul Kumar Kaushal, Tanushri Gautam, S. K. Singh

Analysis of Mahananda River Basin Using Geospatial Data

River Mahananda is an important tributary of the River Ganga. It has a commanding role in regulating overall economy of the catchment area, namely Darjeeling, Uttar Dinajpur and Maldah districts of West Bengal and Kishanganj, Purnia and Katihar districts of Bihar in more than one ways. However, landslides, soil erosion, shifting of bank lines and associated degradational fluvial process have detrimental effect on the hydrological regime of the river thereby on the economy of the catchment area. In order to apprehend the spatio-temporal impact, the present study derived some basic basin parameters using geospatial data and analysed its implications in arresting fluvial hazards such as bank line changes, floods and landslides. The study found that the river is foothill fed, dendritic with moderate drainage to low texture, and the basin is highly elongated. Due to low slope on downstream and variable discharge, the river often exhibits the meandering and braided structure throughout its lower courses. The study recommended massive afforestation programme along the upper catchment, identification and mapping of landslides risk-prone areas and implementation of slope stability programme and site suitability analysis prior to infrastructure project implementation for sustainable basin development.

Narendra Kumar Rana

Hooghly River

Hooghly is one of the most important rivers of West Bengal, and it is also the centre for industrial development of West Bengal. Due to increasing industrialization and urbanization on Hooghly bank, its pollution level has shown an exponential growth especially in the region of Hooghly estuary. Its pH ranged from 7.9 to 8.4, phosphate showing lower concentration in monsoon and higher in summer. In Hooghly River, production of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) is 2.76 × 106 t/yr.; dissolve inorganic nitrogen (DIN) is 65.8 × 103 t/yr.; dissolve reactive phosphate (DRP) is 12.8 × 103 t/yr.; and silicate is 42.8 × 103 t/yr. Hooghly estuary considered as one of the most polluted estuaries in the world having half a billion litres of untreated waste from different industrial sectors dumped every year. This chapter highlights about the geomorphology and socio-economic importance of Hooghly River as well as change in pollution level from pre-Farakka period to recent times.

Prabhat Ranjan, Alagappan Ramanathan

Damodar River Basin: Storehouse of Indian Coal

Damodar River basin has a total catchment area of 25,820 km2 and is a part of the Ganges River System. Drainage area of Damodar basin extends from 22° 45′N–24° 30′N and 84° 45′E to 88° 00′E and is covering about 11.8% of the total geographical areas of Jharkhand and 8.6% of West Bengal states. Catchment area of Damodar River basin extends over Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Koderma, Giridih, Dhanbad, Bokaro, and Chatra districts in Jharkhand and Burdwan and Hooghly districts in West Bengal. It partially covers Palamau, Ranchi, Lohardaga, and Dumka districts in Jharkhand and Howrah, Bankura, and Purulia districts in West Bengal. It is a small rain-fed river originating from Khamarpat hill at the trijunction of Palamu, Ranchi, and Hazaribag districts of Jharkhand and travels about 541 km distance before joining the lower Ganga (Hooghly estuary) at Shayampur, 55 km downstream of Howrah. Damodar River flows through the industrial towns of Ramgarh, Bokaro, Dhanbad, Asansol, Durgapur, Burdwan, and Howrah. It has varying landforms such as plateaus, hills, uplands, and flat plains. Geology of the basin is characterized by the rocks consisting of granites and granitic gneisses of Archaeans, sandstones and shales of the Gondwanas and the recent alluvial. Damodar basin is known for its coal deposits, accounting for 46% of the country’s coal reserves and commonly referred as the ‘store house of Indian coal.’ Several other minerals are also associated with the geological formations of the river basin such as mica, fireclay, bauxite, limestone, china clay, baryte, ironstone. Coal washeries, coal mining, mining dumps, cock industries, thermal power plants, mining machineries, and vehicular emission are the major sources of the pollutants in the Damodar River basin. The water and sediment quality of the river basin are severely affected by the pollutants released from these point and nonpoint sources of pollution. Less than 20% of the Damodar basin area is under vegetation cover and a light savanna type of woodland with secondary growth of shrubs and vines form the major vegetation types. Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) is a major responsible agency for water supply through dams, canals and barrage for irrigation, industrial and domestic purposes. Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) proficient management of water resources has turned the devastating river Damodar from a ‘River of Sorrow’ to a ‘River of Opportunities.’

G. C. Mondal, Abhay Kumar Singh, T. B. Singh

Subarnarekha River: The Gold Streak of India

Subarnarekha is a rain-fed river flowing in the eastern part of India and sustaining millions of people of Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Orissa. It originates near Nagri village in the Ranchi district and runs through some major industrial towns and cities, i.e., Jamshedpur, Chaibasa, Ranchi, Bhadrak before joining to the Bay of Bengal at Kirtania port in Orissa. Though the Subarnarekha basin is rich in mineral and mineral-based industries, it is still dominated by its agrarian economy. Agriculture, however, has not yet been properly developed within the Subarnarekha basin, and necessary inputs including irrigation facilities are still rather inadequate. Besides containing fertile lands, extensive mineral deposits of some important minerals occurred in the upper part of the river basin which facilitate for the establishment of a number of mineral-based industries along the Subarnarekha River banks. Some of the important mineral deposits of the Subarnarekha River basin are ores of copper, iron, uranium, chromium, gold, vanadium, kyanite, asbestos, barytes, apatite, china clay, talc, limestone, dolomite, and building stones. However, due to the unplanned and unregulated mining practices and mining waste disposal, the environmental condition of the river is deteriorating day by day. Discharge of untreated domestic and industrial wastewater generated from the towns and industrial areas into the river is also responsible for deteriorating water quality of Subarnarekha River. The lower catchment of the basin witnesses frequent flood and heavy siltation. The ecological degradation in the upper catchment of the Subarnarekha basin is mainly caused by severe deforestation, rapid urbanization, and fast soil erosion. Considering the great endowment of natural resources in the mineral-rich basin of the Subarnarekha River, it is high time that a well-integrated plan for flood prevention, pollution control, ecological development, and natural resource management has to be formulated for the basin. Such planning must included massive programs of reforestation, soil protection, water conservation, water storage, and moisture management throughout the catchment area, besides controlling the discharge of pollutants from towns, mining and industrial areas, and agriculture fields.

Abhay Kumar Singh, Soma Giri

The Mahi: An Important West Flowing River of Central India

Rivers are lifeline of terrestrial biodiversity including humans. Freshwater is a basic natural resource, and therefore, the areas situated close to the river banks witnessed great cultural and economic progress since ancient times. It is essential for human, agricultural, and industrial activities; India is bestowed by a network of large and small rivers receiving water mainly through glacier melt and monsoon clouds. ~20% of the Indian rivers flow in the westward direction eventually drains into the Arabian Sea. Compared to large rivers, e.g. the Indus, which flows over a variety of lithological units under a variety of climatic conditions, therefore, the behavior of natural processes is rather complex. To understand the natural processes in relatively simplistic but comprehensive manner, a west flowing and comparatively smaller river—the Mahi River has therefore been identified to understand the role of natural earth-surface processes. The Mahi is flowing in central part of western India; it originates in the western Vindhyan mountains in the state of Madhya Pradesh and starts flowing through Rajasthan and Gujarat states before joining the Cambay Bay. The overall drainage area of the Mahi River is 34,842 km2. The hydrogeochemistry of the Mahi River water suggests that the water is slightly acidic to alkaline in nature. Na+ and Ca2+ are the major cations, and $$ {\text{HCO}}_{3}^{ - } $$ and CI− are the dominant anions. Rock weathering is largely controlling the water chemistry; however, anthropogenic and marine sources contributions are rather meager (Sharma et al. 2012). The Mahi basin sediments fall under the litharenite category and composed of quartz, basalt fragments, pyroxene, biotite, and feldspar with little calcite, smectite, and illite. The overall composition of the bulk Mahi sediments suggests ~70–75% contribution from the Deccan basalts and ~25–30% contribution from the biotite-rich granitoids from the upland Aravalli ranges (Sharma et al. 2013). Biologically, the Mahi River basin is dominated by the bottom-dwelling pinnate forms of diatoms over the floating centric forms suggesting control of physicochemical conditions in determining the diatom distribution (Sharma et al. 2011).

Anupam Sharma, Kamlesh Kumar

Narmada: The Longest Westward Flowing River of the Peninsular India

Narmada river, occupying a basin of 98,796 km2, flows over a length of 1312 km before draining its water in the Arabian Sea and forms a ‘traditional boundary’ between North India and South India and serves as a ‘life-line’ to the central Indian region. The Narmada valley, flanked by the Vindhyan escarpments in the north and the Satpura ranges in the south, together with Tapi and Mahi valleys occupies the ‘Son-Narmada-Tapi lineament’ (SONATA), a graben-like structure that influenced the deposition of rocks since Meso-Proterozoic times. Opening of the early orders streams directly into the main valley, calcaretes and ‘incisive drainage’ show a ‘continued neotectonic activity’ along it, because of compressive stresses accumulating along the valley due to northward movement of the Indian plate that is manifested as earthquakes. The Narmada valley shows two developmental stages—the ‘inner down cutting gorge’ and the ‘second down cutting gorge’ that are filled by the alluviums of palaeo-Narmada and the Late Pleistocene, respectively. Palaeoflood study shows ‘clustering of flood events’ and a ‘discernable link between palaeofloods and Holocene climatic changes.’ The alluvium yielded India’s first human fossil—skull cap and collar bones of Homo erectus (early to late Pleistocene age) besides, several fossils of other mammals and dinosaurs. A World Heritage Site, ‘Bhimbetka’ depicts ‘pre–historic rock shelter paintings,’ one of the oldest human habitations in India. The Narmada valley experiences extremes of hydrometeorological and climatic conditions and hence supports diverse nature of vegetation due to its huge water resource potential with an annual flow of over 90% during the monsoon months. It discharges up to 46 billion cubic meter (BCM) water that supports cultivation of ‘fine quality pulses’ and ‘groundnut’ in the vast and fertile ‘black soil’ plains through 4000 water-related projects/structures. Environmentally, its water is far less challenged compared to the other rivers of northern India; however, it has major threats from sewage, industrial and agricultural discharges besides, the affluent released during the annual fairs and festivals organized along its banks.

P. K. Kathal

Mahanadi: The Great River

Mahanadi, the ‘Great River’, is a major rain-fed peninsular river in East Central India that flows through states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha and meets the water requirement for irrigation, domestic and industrial purposes in part of these states. The farthest headwater of the river lies on Sihawa hills. It splits into various channels at Naraj in Odisha, and emerge into an arcuate shaped delta. Progressive shifting of the Mahanadi river course and its coastline can be observed at different stages in the Mahanadi delta. The upstream part of the river is dominated by Proterozoic sedimentary rocks of Chhattisgarh basin while downstream part by silicate rocks of Eastern Ghat Mobile belt. A large number of minor to major projects have already commenced or are under construction and the canals that come out from these projects regulate the agriculture practices in the basin. This river is very vulnerable to climate change as the spatial distribution of regional rainfall pattern enhances the chance of flood in its downstream sub-catchments, while the upstream sub-catchments face threats of draught. The deteriorating water quality of the Mahanadi and its seasonal variability is also a cause of concern.

Raj K. Singh, Moumita Das

Godavari River: Geomorphology and Socio-economic Characteristics

This chapter deals with the socio-economic characteristics of the Godavari River, India. It is a major river of the southern India originating in the Deccan traps, covers total area of 312,812 km2 and occupies 9.5% of the total geographical extent of the nation. Geologically, from source in Nasik district to Nanded district in Maharashtra, the basin is occupied by Deccan Basalt Province followed by the older rock formations of the Peninsular Granites from Degloor tahsil (Nanded district) onwards along with the Puranas and the Gondwanas. From the hydrogeological point of view, it is observed that the groundwater occurs in confined (restricted) setting in joints, cracks, fissures, and fractures moving to deeper levels in the weathered zones of the Deccan basalts. In the Peninsular Gneiss and Gondwanas, the groundwater is found in unconfined (free) state, at which the yield is high. Geomorphologically, the source region is comprised of Sahyadri upland of Maharashtra followed by undulated terrain with chain of elevations and depressions interspersed with low plateau ranges along with plane alluvial deposits and the broad deltaic flats. The depositional environment of coarse gravel sediment in bottom beds of Godavari valley revealed that the streams are of relatively high energy with prevalent bed load transport, whereas finer silt and clay deposits in upper layers indicate that the streams are of lower inclination and there is fluctuation of climatic conditions.

Md. Babar, R. D. Kaplay

Krishna River Basin

Humans derive a variety of benefits from rivers, and the interconnection between river systems and human civilizations is known since ages. Large-scale anthropogenic and natural perturbations affect river (basins), which in turn, often have negative impacts on humans. Indian Peninsular rivers (e.g. the Krishna, Kaveri and the Godavari) bear significance across regional and global domains. Concern on closing of the Krishna river basin has brought forward the issue of water allocation amongst the user states. Hence, it is imperative to have crucial understanding of the geology, climate, rainfall, water resources, geomorphology, soil types and structure of the Krishna river basin. Krishna ranks as fifth largest river basin in India with a catchment area of ~2.6 × 105 km2. The river traverses a length of ~1400 km across the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, before draining into the Bay of Bengal. The geology of the basin is dominated by basalts and crystalline rocks with alluvium, lateritic soils as minor components. It has about thirteen major tributaries (the Bhima and the Tungabhadra are the two largest) and several small-to-large-scale reservoirs for irrigation and/or hydropower generation schemes (e.g. Nagarjuna Sagar and Srisailam). The climate of the region is mostly semi-arid and dry except for humid regions along the Western Ghats. Soils in the basin are generally shallow in depth, and they belong to the type Entisols, Alfisols and Vertisols (black soils for cotton and sugarcane). The major cultivations of the basin are rice, sugarcane and oil seeds. Concerns are raised about shrinkage of the basin, frequent emergence of extreme events such as floods and degradation of water quality of the Krishna and its tributaries. Despite no major annual rainfall variation, observation of large-scale decrease in water discharges in both upper and lower reaches of the basin has stressed the need of management and allocation of water resources in the basin. Flooding in the recent years, in 2006 and in 2009, highlights the role of various human activities that might have contributed to the causes of flooding. Significant actions need to be taken to reduce the socio-economic losses such extreme events bring into the KRB. Water quality issues have also been reported by several workers, resulting mostly from discharges from the industrial towns such as Pune, Satara, Kurnool and Vijayawada. In order to minimize the effect caused by anthropogenic perturbations, the need is to pursue the recommendation proposed by experts (engineers, management specialists, geologists, economists, agricultural scientists, water quality chemists, government experts, etc.). Humans need to extract the socio-economic benefit from a river (basin); however, it should come with greater accountability to preserve the basin.

Anirban Das, Meet Panchal

Cauvery River

Cauvery also known as Ganga of South is one of the largest rivers in the South India. Originating from Western Ghats, it passes through Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry and empties itself into Bay of Bengal. Its river basin has major two topographic domains: (1) the elevated, low-relief Mysore plateau (2) Fluvio-deltaic plains (Tamil Nadu plains). There are 29 major river tributaries joining the Cauvery River. The basin runs in a NW–SE direction. The SE trend of Cauvery River is due to uplift of Western Ghats and tilt of Peninsular Indian mass. The geology of the drainage basin is predominantly formed from Precambrian rocks principally Dharwars. More than 50% area of the basin is arable land, whereas around 21.6% of land is non-arable. Rural areas are densely populated region, and agriculture is the major occupation here. A total of 1050 species of 128 families are seen in this river system. Out of which herbs, shrubs, trees, and other plants like climber, twinners are of 48% (504), 25.7% (270), 16.2% (170), and 10%, respectively. All elements and ions concentration show an increasing trend toward downstream. Main ions show in an order of Na > HCO3 > Mg > K > Ca > Cl > SO4, whereas heavy metal concentration of water shows an order of Cr > Cu = Mn > Co > Ni > Pb > Zn and sediments Co > Cr > Ni = Cu > Mn > Zn > Pb. Metal pollution along downstream shows an increasing trend of pollution load by the movement of pesticides agricultural ashes, and waste from industries and anthropogenic sources. This chapter highlights about the physiography, geology, geomorphology, groundwater, socioeconomic importance of Cauvery River as well as change in its pollution status.

S. Chidambaram, A. L. Ramanathan, R. Thilagavathi, N. Ganesh

Trans- and Tethyan Himalayan Rivers: In Reference to Ladakh and Lahaul-Spiti, NW Himalaya

The Himalayan system is a complex and young fold mountain chain, rightly known as the water tower of Asia. Trans-Himalaya and the Tethyan Himalaya consist of a mountainous region about 1,000 km long and 225 km wide in the center, narrowing to ~32 km width at the eastern and western ends toward the northwestern side of the Himalayan chain in the Indian territory. The rivers of the Trans- and Tethyan Himalayan terrains follow the fault lines (Indus Suture Zone, Karakorum Fault, Spiti fault) and have a tectonic/structural control. These rivers as of today are unpolluted and still away from the anthropogenic and economic impact. They have enough potential which has not been utilized properly perhaps because of its strategic location. Vast exposures of the Quaternary sediments (lacustrine and fluvial) along the Indus (Ladakh, J&K) and Spiti rivers (Lahaul-Spiti, HP) are helpful in generating data on landscape evolution, paleoclimate, tectonics, and earth surface processes.

Binita Phartiyal, Randheer Singh, Debarati Nag

Major River Systems of Jammu and Kashmir

Nature has endowed the state of Jammu and Kashmir with rich resources of lakes and rivers. The most important rivers include the Indus, Jhelum, Tawi, Chenab, Ravi and Kishenganga which have their headwaters in the Himalayan Mountain range and flow across the length of the state. The unending water supply from these rivers forms the backbone in shaping the economy of the state. Main sectors of the state which are directly dependent on water resources include agriculture, irrigation, horticulture, hydroelectricity, and tourism. Moreover, the water resources of the state are governed by special commandments laid down under the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). However, the rugged mountainous terrain, climate, and the human activities have made the state of Jammu and Kashmir vulnerable to the vagaries of nature. Considering the water-related hazards prevalent in the state, it is observed that floods, bank/soil erosion, and deterioration of water quality due to anthropogenic activities are the major cause of concern. In addition, serious concerns regarding water resources are posed by the anticipated influence of climate change on snow-ice reserves and stream flow. Such an altered precipitation and temperature patterns in a scenario of changing climatic conditions will surely affect the seasonal pattern and variability of water levels in wetlands, potentially affecting valued aspects of their functioning as flood protection, carbon storage, water cleansing, and wildlife habitat. Therefore, it is envisaged that growth plans pertaining to various sectors which are closely related to and dependent upon water resources of Jammu and Kashmir should essentially aim at sustainable development having a futuristic vision and considering their positive and negative impacts.

Aparna Shukla, Iram Ali

Rivers of Uttarakhand Himalaya: Impact of Floods in the Pindar and Saryu Valleys

The Uttarakhand Himalaya is frequently rocked by cloud burst-/heavy rainfall-induced floods during monsoon period. The resultant of the events is not only loss of million dollar properties but also toll of local inhabitants as well as pilgrimages as the state have various shrines. Several rivers originate from the Himalayan region and provide the drinking water to millions of people in India. Whereas, the behaviours of the rivers seems to be very precarious and carry floods in downstream region sometime due to excessive precipitation. Considering the significance of the rivers of the region, the present investigation focused on flood events along Pindar and Saryu valleys and its cause and impact on inhabitant. Both the valleys are criss-crossed by numbers of thrusts/faults, which makes the region more prone to disasters. Various geomorphic features e.g. immature topography, deflecting river courses, ponding of ancient drainage, development of cascades, formation of unpaired fluvial terraces and series of triangular fault facets suggested the tectonic modification within the valleys along thrusts/faults. Thus, the fragile lithology, torrential rainfall, accelerating erosion and incision with higher uplift due to tectonic upheaval along the active faults play a significant role in destabilizing of the river valleys and responsible for rainfall-induced catastrophes in the region. Moreover, the anthropogenic disturbance with increased pressure of urbanization, ignorance and poor understanding of geological structures pulverizing the river dynamics as well. Therefore, it is suggested that the impact and human causality can be minimized along the river valleys through detail investigations of geological structure, proper guidelines for sustainable development and awareness of processes of landslides-/cloudburst-induced floods. Further, it needs to relocate the people to safer side on the flat and gentler slopes without waiting for next disaster as relocation is much better than rehabilitation.

Lalit M. Joshi, Anoop K. Singh, Bahadur S. Kotlia

The Major Drainage Systems in the Northeastern Region of India

The drainage system of northeast Indian rivers represents the soul of faith, culture, and tradition of the seven sister states, namely Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur, and Mizoram.

Rahul Verma

Rivers of Mainland Gujarat: Physical Environment and Socio-economic Perspectives

The socio-economic development in Mainland Gujarat has been river centric. The physical environment of these rivers relates to the landscape response to climate change and tectonic forcing. There is a great diversity in the land and water resources of the region; on the one hand, where there is excess run-off in the rivers such as Narmada and Tapi, the population in the Sabarmati basin faces water scarcity. The agricultural growth in these basins has been exceptionally high; however, unplanned irrigation activities have put the surface as well as the groundwater resources under severe stress. The industrial effluents discharged into the main rivers or the tributaries further aggravate these problems. Soil and bank erosion though common are still up to a level where conservation methods can be applied. Thus, the socio-economic relevance of these river basins is very high and a large potential exists to further improve the conditions of water supply, agriculture, soil erosion and pollution. Each geomorphic unit has a unique resource potential, and a scientific evaluation of the potential is necessary for the socio-economic development of the region.

Alpa Sridhar, L. S. Chamyal

Purna River, Maharashtra

Purna River and its basin area have been studied using advanced techniques of remote sensing and geographical information system. Physiographically, from north to south, the basin is divisible into four distinct regions, i.e. high relief Melghat Hill Range, alluvial plain, undulating to rolling plateau plains and Ajanta Hill Range. Morphological and lithological variations are quite distinct and clearly identifiable into consolidated sediments, unconsolidated sediments, residual capping and volcanic flows. Landforms are mostly the results of structural, denudational and fluvial processes, of which the last is mainly represented by loose to consolidated sediment cover of the area, due to the depositional activity of the Purna River and its tributaries. These are further subdivided on the basis of occurrence, relief, vegetation, nature of sediment admixture, lithological characteristics and dissections particularly in the case of basalt. The widespread alluvial sediments have been studied for its lateral variations, for which, apart from image characteristics, other supportive parameters such as number of dug wells, presence of summer-irrigated crops and moisture content have also been taken into consideration. The overall analysis indicates the occurrence of five lithofacies, i.e. boulder-pebbly facies, sandy alluvial facies, sandy-clay facies, silty facies and clayey facies. The spatial distributions of these facies are controlled mainly by structural set-up and topography of the area. The river has twelve major tributaries making a dendritic pattern in peripheral area whereas parallel to subparallel in central alluvial part. The confluences of northern tributaries with the main channel are almost at the right angle, whereas the southern tributaries have a tendency of Yazoo pattern. The basin has been divided into twenty watersheds following the criteria as proposed by AIS & LUS. Various quantitative measurements belonging to linear, aerial and relief aspects of the watersheds have been calculated and interpreted. The lineament study reveals that the main channel has a strong control of a major lineament, whereas certain tributaries bear minor reflections. In general, the density of lineaments is low in alluvial area as compared to basaltic terrain. Attempts have also been made for delineation of land use/land cover categories, palaeochannels and soil types of the basin area. Comments have also been made on the inland groundwater salinity prevailing in the central alluvial part of the basin covering an area of 2900 km2. Both shallow and deep aquifers experience low to high levels of salinity creating major socio-economic problem in the area.

Ashok K. Srivastava, Vivek M. Kale

Saraswati River: It’s Past and Present

Vedic Saraswati River flowed in full vigour about 5000 year BP and before as an independent river system between the Indus and Ganga systems. The river originated from the Himalaya flowed along the present Ghaggar-Saraswati Channel in Haryana-Punjab Plain and then took Hakra-Nara course in Rajasthan and Sindh, finally debouching in Arabian Sea near Rann of Kachchh. A large number of archaeological sites present in Saraswati basin bear testimony to the flourishing Indus-Saraswati Civilization. Drier climate in the lower reaches and drainage disruption in the upper reaches due to neotectonic block movements along Ropar and Yamuna Tear Zones, lead the river to desiccate and make it ephemeral type. The neotectonic movements in Yamuna Tear Zone created a water divide in erstwhile Bata-Markanda (cf. Saraswati) course, diverting most of Saraswati waters into Yamuna. Likewise block movement in Ropar Teat Zone diverted the south flowing Satluj River to take a westerly course. Thus, the Saraswati River was deprived of a perennial source of water.

G. S. Srivastava

Subansiri: Largest Tributary of Brahmaputra River, Northeast India

Subansiri River, a major tributary of the Brahmaputra River in the northeastern part of India, has been analyzed in detail for various studies. This chapter describes the origin and course of river, geology, major land use and land cover classification, and soil types of the river basin. It also includes the geological, geomorphological, and climatic characteristics of the Subansiri River basin. It originates in the Tibet Plateau and is the largest tributary of Brahmaputra River. The maximum elevation of the river basin is 5340 m near origin and minimum 99 m at Gerukamukh near Assam plain. The high topographic variation makes this river a potential zone for harnessing it for the hydropower. The districts situated on the bank of Subansiri River are flood prone during monsoon season. A case study on the hydrological modeling of the river basin has also been presented to assess the major parameters governing the streamflow.

Manish Kumar Goyal, Shivam, Arup K. Sarma, Dhruv Sen Singh

Teesta River and Its Ecosystem

The Teesta River is the main right-bank tributary of Brahmaputra River which originates from North Sikkim Himalaya, India, and joins the Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh. Teesta River is the high elevated drained river which originates from TsoLhamo Lake at 5030-m elevation which shows its potential to generate the hydroelectricity. Due to the large variation in the elevation profile, the located cities at the bank of this river are at risk of landslides and flash flood events during monsoon season. A case study on Teesta river catchment using hydrological modeling to simulate the governing parameters such as streamflow in the river basin was carried out with MIKE NAM hydrological model.

Manish Kumar Goyal, Uttam Puri Goswami

Correction to: Cauvery River

Correction to: Chapter “Cauvery River” in: D.S. Singh (ed.), The Indian Rivers, Springer Hydrogeology,

S. Chidambaram, A. L. Ramanathan, R. Thilagavathi, N. Ganesh
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