Indus River System

The Indus river is one of the world's largest river basins. It is also known as Sindhu. The river flows through China(Tibet region), India and Pakistan. In Tibet, it is known as Singi Khambai or Lion's mouth.

Indus River System

The Zaskar river, Suru river, Soan river, Jhelum river, Chenab river, Ravi river, Beas river, Satluj river, Panjnad river are its major left-bank tributaries. The Shyok river, Gilgit river, Hunza river, Swat river, Kunnar river, Kurram river and Kabul river are its major right-bank tributaries.

Figure showing the Indus River System

 

Source of origin

The Indus river originates from a glacier near Bokhar Chu in the Tibetan region in the Kailash Mansarovar range near the Mansarovar Lake.

Confluence or Mouth

The Indus river drains into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi, Pakistan after forming a huge delta.

The course of the Indus river

The Indus river follows a long and straight course in Ladakh, running between the Ladakh and the Zaskar ranges. The gradient of the river is also gentle here. It forms a spectacular gorge near Gilgit(at Bunzi, north of Nanga Parbat) in Jammu and Kashmir. After crossing the Himalayas, it turns into south-west and enters Pakistan near Chillar in the Dardistan region. The river has developed antecedent drainage in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Finally, the river emerges out of the mountains near Attock where it receives the Kabul river on its right-bank. The river receives the Panjnad a little over Mithankot. It flows roughly southwards until it drains into the Arabian Sea near Karachi after forming a huge delta.

Primary Tributaries of the Indus river

The Jhelum

The Jhelum river rises from the Sheshnag Lake near Verinag at the foot of Pir Panjal range. The river flows through Srinagar and the beautiful Wular Lake. It merges into Chenab in Pakistan.

The Chenab

The Chenab river is made up of two streams, the Chandra and the Bhaga, which merge at Tandi, near Keylong in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The river is also known as Chandrabagha. The Chenab river is the largest tributary of Indus. The river flows through Kullu, Chamba, between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal range.

The Ravi

The Ravi river originates near the Rohtang Pass in Kullu hills in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The river flows through Chamba valley. The river drains away the area lying between southeastern part of Pir Panjal and the Dhauladhar ranges. It merges into Chenab river near Sarai Sandhu in the Punjab region of Pakistan.

The Beas

The Beas river rises from Beas Kund near the Rohtang Pass in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The river flows through Kullu Valley. It forms a gorge at Kati and Largi in the Dhauladhar range. The river merges into the Satluj river at Harike in the state of Punjab. Harike wetland is a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance.

The Satluj

The Satluj river rises from the Rakas Lake near the Mansarovar Lake in the Tibet region. In Tibet, the river is known by the name of Langchen Khambab. The Satluj river flows parallel to the Indus river before entering India at Shipki La. It is an antecedent river. The Bhakra Nangal Project is constructed on the Satluj river.

 

Indus Water Treaty

With partition in 1947 and emergence of the two independent political entities India and Pakistan, the sharing of Indus waters resulted in a dispute and became an International issue. After years of discussion and negotiations between Governments of India and Pakistan, carried out under the auspices of the World Bank, resulted in Indus Waters Treaty , signed in the year 1960. Under this treaty, the waters of the three eastern rivers (the Ravi, the Beas and the Satluj) is assigned for the unrestricted use of India and waters of the three western rivers(the Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab) is assigned for the unrestricted use of Pakistan.

 

Major River Valley Projects/Dams/Barrages associated with the Indus system

  • The Indira Gandhi Canal Project- It is one of the largest and the longest canal project in the world. The Indira Gandhi Canal starts from the Harike Barrage at Harike(in Punjab), the confluence point of the rivers Satluj and Beas, to southward till Barmer(in Rajasthan). The canal has transformed the barren areas of Rajasthan into prosperous agricultural fields. Besides providing water for agriculture, the canal supplies drinking water to hundreds of people in far-flung areas.
  • The Bhakra Nangal Project- This multipurpose river valley project was constructed for supplying electricity to the power-hungry north-western India and to extend irrigation facilities in the north-western Haryana and south-western Punjab. Bhakra Dam and Nangal Dam have been constructed on the river Satluj in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The water reservoir behind the Bhakra Dam is known as Gobind Sagar.
  • The Upper Bari Doab Canal- It draws its water from the Ravi river. It starts from Madhopur near Pathankot(in Punjab). The canal provides irrigation to the northern districts of Punjab, mainly Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Tarn Taran.
  • The Sirhind Canal- It draws its water from the Satluj river. It starts at Rupnagar/Ropar(in Punjab). The canal provides irrigation in Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Sangrur, Bathinda and Patiala districts of Punjab.
  • The Pong Dam-The dam has been constructed on the river Beas in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The water reservoir created by the dam, Maharana Pratap Sagar is a Ramsar wetland site.
  • The Thein Dam- The dam has been constructed on the river Ravi near Pathankot in the state of Punjab. It is also known as Ranjit Sagar Dam. It is the largest hydroelectric project of Punjab.
  • The Chamera Dam- The dam has been constructed on the river Ravi in Chamba district, Himachal Pradesh. The dam fulfils the hydroelectric needs of the region.
  • The Dul Hasti Dam- The dam has been constructed on the river Chenab in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Salal Dam- The dam has been constructed on the river Chenab at Dhyangarh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Baglihar Dam- The dam has been constructed on the river Chenab near Batote in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Tulbul Project- The project has been commissioned on the river Jhelum in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Wular Barrage on the Wular Lake(a Ramsar wetland site) is constructed.
  • The Uri Dam- The dam has been constructed on the river Jhelum in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

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