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Brahmaputra River


Source of Brahmaputra River
Brahmaputra River in plains
Dams on Brahmaputra River
Brahmaputra River in Hindu religion
Flood in Brahmaputra wreak havoc
Tributaries of Brahmaputra River
Environment Protection
Brahmaputra cruises
Google map Brahmaputra River


   The Brahmaputra ( ब्रम्हपुत्र)  river is one of the major rivers of Asia is a trans-boundary river. The Brahmaputra river is about 2900 km long originate from western Tibet as as the Yarlung Tsangpo River.  This river flows through three countries – born in Tibet, flowing through India and then on to Bangladesh.  It has many names - Tsangpo in Tibet, Lohit or Brahmaputra in India and Jamuna (not Yamuna of India) in Bangladesh. The waters of the River Brahmaputra are shared by China, India, and Bangladesh.

    Brahmaputra river

   While most Indian and Bangladeshi rivers bear female names, this river has a rare male name, as it means "son of Brahma" in Sanskrit. The Brahmaputra is navigable for most of its length. The river is prone to catastrophic flooding in spring when the Himalayan snows melt. It is also one of the few rivers in the world that exhibit a tidal bore. In Bangladesh the river merges with the River Ganga (गंगा) and splits into two the Hugli and Padma River. When Brahmaputra river merges with the Ganges and Meghna rivers it form the  world’s largest delta  60,000km2 in area.

    Source of Brahmaputra River

   The Yarlung Tsangpo River (name of Brahmaputra river in Tibet), originates in the "Jima Yangzong" glacier near Mount Kailash in the northern Himalayas. It then flows east for about 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi), at an average height of 4,000 metres (13,000 ft), the highest of the major rivers in the world. In Tibet, the Tsangpo follows the suture line between the Eurasian Plate and the Indian Plate . At its easternmost point, it bends around Mount Namcha Barwa and forms the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon.

     Brahmputra Map

   The Yarlung Tsangpo River (name of Brahmaputra river in Tibet), originates in the "Jima Yangzong" glacier near Mount Kailash in the northern Himalayas.


   Brahmaputra River in plains 

    The Brahmaputra enters India in the state of Arunachal Pradesh from Tibet, where it is called "Siang". After a rapid descent from its original height in Tibet it finally appears in the plains, where it is called "Dihang". It flows for about 35 kilometres  and is joined by the Dibang River and the Lohit River at the head of the Assam Valley. Below the Lohit the river is called Brahmaputra, enters the state of Assam and becomes as wide as 10 kilometres  in parts of Assam. It is joined in Sonitpur by the Kameng River (or Jia Bhoreli). Between Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur districts the river divides into two channels—the northern "Kherkutia" channel and the southern Brahmaputra channel.

   The two channels join again about 100 kilometres (62 mi) downstream forming the Majuli island, the largest river island in India. At Guwahati , near the ancient pilgrimage center of Hajo, the Brahmaputra river cuts through the rocks of the Shillong Plateau becomes narrowest at 1 kilometre

   The Brahmaputra river enters Bangladesh from Assam. In Bangladesh, the Brahmaputra is joined by the Teesta River (or tista river), one of its largest tributaries. Below the Teesta, the Brahmaputra splits into two distributaries branches. The western larger branch continues due south as the Jamuna to merge with the lower Ganges, called the Padma River  The eastern smaller branch is called the lower or old Brahmaputra join the Meghna River near Dhaka . The Padma and Meghna converge near Chandpur and flow out into the Bay of Bengal.

   Dams on Brahmaputra River

   The waters of the River Brahmaputra are shared by China, India, and  Bangladesh. In the 1990s and 2000s, there was repeated speculation about China building a dam at the Great Bend, with a view to divert the waters to the north of the country. This was denied by the Chinese government for many years. However on 22 April 2010, China confirmed that it was indeed building the Zangmu Dam but assured India that the project would not have any significant effect on the downstream flow to India.

   Chinese media reports indicated that the Zangmu project is unlikely to be the last on the Brahmaputra. A news report on the widely read portal Tencent said the Zangmu dam was “a landmark project” for Tibet's development, being the first major dam in Tibet, and “a project of priority in the Eleventh Five Year Plan.”  The report said that such projects would “greatly relieve the energy stress in the middle regions of Tibet” and upgrade power capacity from 100 MW to  500 MW. 

   India's "high-calibre satellite" imagery has not shown diversion of Brahmaputra waters by China, official sources said June 16, 2011 responding to criticism that government was turning a 'Nelson's eye' to reports of massive construction plans by Chinese authorities. India has ascertained from its sources that the construction of a dam at Zangmu in the middle reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo (as the Brahmaputra is called in Tibet) is a run-of-the river hydro-electricity project which does not store water and will not adversely impact the downstream areas in India, the sources said adding there was no cause for "worry or alarm". However, the sources said the government was continuing to "assess and monitor" the situation and any attempt to divert the water in future will not be "seen favourably" by India.

   Noting that apart from the assurances from China that it is a run-of-the river project, the government has "verified" the facts from its own sources, the sources said adding "we don't only trust but also assess." They also said a large proportion of the catchment of the Brahmaputra was within Indian territory. "It is important that the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam harness and utilize the waters of the Brahmaputra. This is the really important issue," they said. The sources also pointed out that there was exchange of water data between the two countries and there was an expert-level committee to discuss such issues. 

   The looming threat to the world heritage sites of Kaziranga and other national parks in Assam is not from poachers or encroachers. But according to a study conducted by experts it is from the 70 dams and hydro electric power projects that are coming up on River Brahmaputra and its tributaries in the North-East region of the country. 

   The study was conducted Bibhab K Talukdar, Secretary General of Aaranyak, member organisation of National Board For Wildlife (NBWL) and Partha J Das who heads the Water, Climate & Hazard Programme of the organisation. The 70 large dams proposed by the Government of India are to come up on the basins of the Rivers Siang (20), Lohit (11), Dibang (17) and Subansiri (22).


   The Brahmaputra river  upper course was long unknown, and its identity with the Yarlung Tsangpo was only established by exploration in 1884-86. This river is often called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river. The lower reaches in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam are sacred to Hindus Until 1947, the Brahmaputra was used as a major waterway in India. In the 1990s, the stretch between Sadiya and Dhubri was declared as National Waterway No.2., and it provides facilities for goods transportation. Recently years have seen a modest spurt in the growth of river cruises.

Brahmaputra rising cut off river island

With the waters of Brahmaputra rising for the past three days, Majuli was cut off from the mainland for the second consecutive day today with ferry services to and from Jorhat being suspended. Schools in the riverine areas remained closed because of the rising water level, which has also affected about 1,000 hectares of cropland.

Nothing new in India-China treaty on water sharing "The central government has failed to get any assurance from China on India's concerns regarding China's large scale activities for diversion of Brahmaputra (river) waters. China has constructed and is constructing mega dams and hydro-power projects on upstream Brahmaputra and its tributaries," said Ashok Singhal, president of the Jana Jagriti, while addressing the media.

  Monitor Brahmaputra to rule out Chinese dam
  Fears of China constructing a dam across the Brahmaputra in the upper reaches of the river are too real to be scoffed at. There have been reports that China has been constructing a dam at what is called the Great Bend to divert its water to the Gobi desert. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had discussed the matter with Chinese president Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the recent Brics summit at Durban. Xi told India that China was aware of its obligations and would not do anything which would upset the interests of the riparian countries. 
  The river, which originates in the Himalayas, flows through China and India to finally join the Ganga in Bangladesh. Between the two rivers, they sustain more people than all the people in Western Europe and North America combined.  

Brahmaputra River in Hindu religion

     There are many mythological stories on Brahmaputra  river. The  most popular one is about the river's birth in 'Kālikā Purāna'. It describes how Lord Parshuram, one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu विष्णु), got rid of his sin of beheading his own mother with an axe by taking bath in this sacred river. This place is presently known as Parashurām Kunda (about 25 km north of Tezu in Lomita district in`Arunāchal Pradesh).`

   In an another mythological story, Amogha wife of Sage Shantanu had a child by Brahma the creator of the Universe. The child took the form of water. Shantanu placed the child right in the middle of the four great mountains – Kailash, Gandhamadana, Jarudhi and Sambwartakka. He grew into a great lake, the Brahmakunda.


  The plains watered by the stream  of Brahmaputra yield abundant crops of rice, jute, and mustard. The Brahmaputra is an important source of irrigation and navigation. The Planning Commission has accorded investment clearance to implement anti-erosion works to protect Brahmaputra dykes on November 9, 2011.

  This project is estimated to cost Rs 8.35 crore. The dyke works relate to 69 km (Uluberi) and 78 km (Borigaon). The proposed scheme envisages anti-erosion measures for a 9000-m long reach on the south bank of the Brahmaputra river. The proposed scheme has been framed to protect an area of 8,000 hectares comprising cultivated and homestead land including public and government properties. An estimated 1.50 lakh people are likely to be benefited from the scheme, official sources said. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2011-12 and Plan accounts will be closed by March 31, 2012.

   Flood in Brahmaputra wreak havoc

Worst ever 2012 Brahmaputra floods continued to wreak havoc in Assam, as the Brahmaputra and its tributaries sent more areas under water, and over 4 lakh people were badly hit in 23 affected districts. The 2012 floods in the north- eastern state are the worst ever since 1998.

  India's annual monsoon has claimed 109 lives since rains started in June and left at least 400,000 people homeless in Assam, in a tragedy experts say was made worse by corruption and poor management of the Brahmaputra River.
A senior member of the Assam Human Rights Commission, a government body, told Reuters it suspects millions of dollars meant for flood control have been siphoned off by state water department officials in the last five years. The commission has demanded a high-level investigation by the government.
  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who represents Assam in the Rajya Sabha, called the floods the worst in recent times and promised $1,800 to each victim's family in compensation. Critics say that much of the money will evaporate.Over the past 60 years successive governments have built levees along most of the length of the volatile Brahmaputra, which is Assam's main river and is fed by Himalayan snow melt and some of the world's heaviest rainfall. Experts say these embankments are both criminally under-maintained and a discredited form of flood management. The incessant rains have lashed out many parts of the state resulting in alarming rise of water level of the Brahmaputra River in 23 of the 27 districts. 
  The worst-hit districts include Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Nalbari, Barpeta and Dhubri where water has engulfed fresh areas of human habitation and cropland. More than five lakh people have been affected in this wave of the floods which have threatened the existence of Majuli, the world's largest inhabited river island. The situation in the island was unchanged even as there was no fresh rainfall. The Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site, and Pabitora sanctuary, both housing the highly endangered one horned rhino, are under flood waters.


The environment of the Brahmaputra floodplains in Assam have been described as the Brahmaputra Valley semi- evergreen forests ecoregion. Kaziranga National Park is approximately 720 miles northeast of Kolkata in the Indian state of Assam. It lies in the flood plain of the Brahmaputra River across the central valley of Assam. The spring snow melt and summer monsoon bring yearly floods to Kaziranga that enrich its grasslands and tropical forests, enabling the park to support healthy populations of Bengal tigers, elephants, various deer, wild water buffalo, boar, monkeys, reptiles and birds (both migratory and local). The park's most famous resident is the Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, which is every bit as big and burly as its African cousins.
  The Indian rhino has been hunted extensively for its horn, which is still prized in the Chinese and Vietnamese medicinal trade. Early in the 20th century, fewer than 200 Indian rhinos survived in northeast India and lowland Nepal. Today, through habitat preservation and protection from hunting, that population has risen to more than 2,800. Seventy percent of these animals are in Kaziranga.

The union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has realized the extreme danger to river dolphins in the Ganga and Brahmaputra. The pollution levels in the Brahmaputra River and massive human intervention has affected the dolphin's larger habitat. "They are very sensitive to pollution and the spill of sewage and other urban wastes has disturbed their habitat," says Borthakur, a reputed ethnobotanist.

  River Brahmaputra will no more be a river of sorrow for the Indian one-horned rhinoceros as the Assam forest department along with WWF and US Fish and Wildlife Services is planning its second round of translocation this summer and the rhinos to be translocated will be from Kaziranga National Park this time. The department's decision is among others aimed at rescuing the rhinos, classified as vulnerable species according to International Union of Conservation Network (IUCN), from the flash floods of River Brahmaputra which takes a toll on at least half a dozen of these animals every year. ?The other intention is aimed at reviving the rhino population and ensuring conservation and protection of Manas tiger reserve,? said a wildlife expert, who is a part of this programme.

   Tributaries of Brahmaputra River

 The main  tributaries of Brahmaputra River are  Dibang River, Lohit River , Dhansiri River,  Kameng River , Raidak River, Jaldhaka River, Teesta River

   Environment Protection

In comparison with  the other major rivers in India, the Brahmaputra river is less polluted but it has its own problems: petroleum refining units contribute most of the industrial pollution load into the basin along with other medium and small industries. The main problem facing the river basin is that of constant flooding. Floods have been occurring more often in recent years with deforestation, and other human activities being the major causes.

During the monsoon season, floods are a common occurrence. Deforestation in the Brahmaputra watershed has resulted in increased siltation levels, flash floods, and soil erosion in critical downstream habitat, such as the Kaziranga National Park in middle Assam. The massive flooding causes huge losses to crops, life and property. 

  The beautiful Brahmaputra has become a river of sorrow for the people here. In the past two years, it has devoured more than 40 young lives, bringing under public glare a vital question: shouldn't the government do something immediately to ensure safety for the riders to the mighty river? 
  For long, people have been beseeching the authorities to check the tragic re-runs. But regulations remain a distant dream even as the city moans the death of five people who were drowned in the river last week. Their bodies are yet to be traced. Last year, over 22 lives were lost. The Inland Water Transport, which runs a ferry service till the Umananda Temple on the Umananda Island, has also temporarily stopped the service since July 11, 2011 because of the rising water level.


  Brahmaputra flows above danger level, nearly 1 lakh people hit   
The rain-fed mighty Brahmaputra and its tributaries flowing above the danger level across Assam have hit nearly one lakh people inundating human habitations and farm land in ten districts with Dhemaji being the worst-hit.  
 Incessant rainfall on July 6 in the  catchment areas of the state's upper reaches and neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh has raised the water level of the Brahmaputra throughout the state and it was flowing above the danger level at Nematighat in Jorhat, official sources said.


   Its tributaries Jia Bharali at NT Road Crossing in Sonitpur district and Dhansiri at Numaligarh in Golaghat district were also flowing above the red mark. The first wave of floods this season since June last has claimed so far one human life in Morigaon district besides an elephant
and an antelope perished in Nagaon district near Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat district. The surging waters have flooded Dhemaji, Nagaon, Golaghat, Jorhat, Kamrup, Karimganj, Lakhimpur, Morigaon, Sivasagar and homeless.

  Turn Brahmaputra into vibrant waterway: Abdul Kalam

  Speaking at the 14th convocation function of IIT-Guwahati on May 26, 2012  APJ Abdul Kalam said the Brahmaputra was very close to his heart. By a smart waterway, Kalam meant that the river should be turned into a vibrant waterway. "The Brahmaputra is very close to me. Yesterday and even today I visited the river bank," said Kalam.The former President exhorted the students to work for this cause.
  Bhupen Hazarika, a music legend
   Hazarika had "love-hate relationship" with the Brahmaputra
  In 1965  Hazarika wrote and sung that famous song rebuking the Burha Luit... "Brahmaputra" for flowing so silently despite seeing the sufferings of the people, his fans and critics wondered why he was so angry with the mighty river. But while that was one song which was inspired by Paul Robeson's famous song Ol? Man River, Hazarika in his lifetime spanning over eight decades wrote and sung over 100 songs about the Brahmaputra some of extreme anger and some of deep reverence to it.

PM allays fears on China dam
 Allaying apprehension over diversion of Brahmaputra River, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said that China has
assured that all hydropower projects there are run-of-river ventures and would not impact the flow of river downstream.
The Prime Minister was replying to the discussion on President’s address in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
  He said that India has taken up the issue of trans-border rivers with China and has been assured at the highest level that all new projects are RoR and will not impact the flow of water. India is vigilant about all developments on the country’s periphery having a bearing on its unity and integrity, he added. 
  The recently released ‘Outline of the 12th Five Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China’ indicates that three more hydropower projects on the main stream of the
Brahmaputra River in Tibet Autonomous Region have been approved for implementation by the Chinese authorities,

  Brahmaputra cruises

   Indo-British joint venture Assam Bengal Navigation, that had started its operations in 2003 offering long-distance cruises on Brahmaputra in Assam, initiated its river cruises on the river Hugli (a tributary of Ganges) in 2007, extending it to the Ganges in 2010. In recent times Assam Bengal Navigation has had an increasing share of clients from Australia, North America and Japan as well. The company currently has offices in Guwahati and the UK. Assam Bengal Navigation has two luxury river boats - the 'ABN Charaidew', and 'ABN Sukapha'. The Brahmaputra cruises are in operation from end-September till end of April and the Hugli and Ganges cruises operation from July till end of April.

   Brahmaputra cruises feature attractions such as wildlife viewing (both by jeep and on elephant back), village walks, visits to tea gardens, exploring country towns in cycle rickshaws, barbecues on deserted river islands, dance performances, and visits to craft workshops. Between October and April a combination of seven-night, 10-night and four-night cruises are offered. Cruises can be combined to give durations up to 14 nights.

Google map Brahmaputra River
 Hazarika also had a personal reason  against the " Brahmaputra. The river had taken away Sadiya, the place where I was born, and I can never forgive the Brahmaputra for that," he had once said. Sadiya in the eastern end of Assam, which was once a flourishing town, had disappeared due to massive erosion caused by the river that had changed course after the great earthquake of 1950.

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