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Indus Basin

The transboundary Indus river basin has a total area of 1.12 million km2 distributed between Pakistan (47 percent), India (39 percent), China (8 percent) and Afghanistan (6 percent).

Indus Water Treaty

In order to optimise water efficiency, a treaty was signed with Pakistan in the year 1960 - Indus Water Treaty. Under this treaty, the waters of the three eastern rivers (the Ravi, the Beas and the Satluj) would be for the exclusive use of India and waters of the three western rivers (the Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab) for the exclusive use of Pakistan.

Salient features

The basin is recognized as the ideal and practical unit of water resources management as it allows the  holistic understanding of upstream-downstream hydrological interactions and solution for management for all competing sectors of water demand. It is one of the largest basins of Asia.

In India, the Indus basin spreads over the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and a part of Rajasthan, Haryana, and Union Territory of Chandigarh, having an area of 3,21,289 sq. km, which is nearly 9.8% of the total geographical area of the country.

The Indus basin is bounded by the Himalayan on the east, the Karakoram and Haramosh ranges on the north, the Sulaiman and Kirthar ranges on the west, and the Arabian Sea on the south. The culturable area of the basin is 9.6 Mha (Million Hectare Area), which is about 4.9 percent of the total culturable area of the country.

Upper part of the basin lying in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh mostly consists of mountain ranges and narrow valleys. In Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan the basin consists of vast plains, which are the fertile granary of the country.

The major part of the basin received an average annual rainfall of over 620.96 mm. The major part of basin is covered with agricultural land and accounting to 35.8 percent of the total area. 1.85 percent of the basin is covered by water bodies. The snowmelt makes a significant contribution to this huge water flow.

The hydroelectric potential of the Indus basin has been assessed 33832 MW.

The water availability from the Indus basin has transformed the deserts into the fertile agricultural fields, which has facilitated the  influx of human settlers into the uninhabited land. Thus, the Indus river is very useful for our nation, and that is why it was the cradle of the great Indus Valley civilization of ancient world.

Indus river

The North-Western region of the Indian sub-continent is the land of the Indus. Indeed from this river, India gets her name. The principal tributaries of the River Indus from west are the Rivers Kabul and the Kurrem; the five main tributaries from east are the Rivers, the Jhelum, the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas and the Satluj. The principal rivers of Indus system are all perennial. Its tributaries are more dependent on the monsoon rains.

The river originates from Mount Kailash in Tibet. From its origin to the Guddu Barrage in Pakistan, it is called the Upper Indus, while downstream from the barrage it is known as the Lower Indus. Length of the river in India is 1,114 km.

Major Projects

To utilize the waters of the Eastern rivers which have been allocated to India for exclusive use, India has constructed Bhakra Dam on Satluj, Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi. These storage works, together with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link, Indira Gandhi Nahar Project etc has helped India utilize nearly entire share (95 %) of waters of Eastern rivers.

Other projects in process are as follows.

  • Shahpurkandi project - This project will help in utilizing the waters coming out from powerhouse of Thein dam to irrigate 37000 hectares of land in J&K and Punjab and generate 206 MW of power.
  • Ujh multipurpose project -This project will create a storage of about 781 million cu m of water on river Ujh , a tributary of Ravi for irrigation and power generation in India itselfand provide a total irrigation benefits of 31,380 ha in Kathua, Hiranagar and Samba district of J&K apart from providing water for the district Kathua of J&K.
  • 2nd Ravi Beas link below Ujh - This project is being planned to tap excess water flowing down to Pakistan through river Ravi, even after construction of Thein Dam, by constructing a barrage across river Ravi for diverting water through a tunnel link to Beas basin. The project is expected to utilize about 0.58 MAF of surplus waters below Ujhdam by diverting the same to Beas basin for benefits of other co-basin states.

Sources:

  1. Hydrology and Water Resources Information System for India
  2. Bhakra Beas Management Board


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