Barak and others


The basin covers parts of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. In India it spreads over states of Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Assam, Tripura and Nagaland having an area of 41,723 which is nearly 1.38% of the total geographical area of the country. The basin extends between 89°50’ to 94°0’ east longitudes and 22°44’ to 25°58’ north latitudes with maximum length and width of 460 km and 350 km. It is bounded by the Barail range separating it from the Brahmaputra basin on the north, by the Naga and Lushai hills on the east and by Mizo hills and territory of Bangladesh on the south and west. The Barak River rises from the Manipur hills, south of Mao in Senapati district of Manipur at an elevation of 2,331 m. It flows then along Nagaland-Manipur border through hilly terrains and enters Assam. It further enters Bangladesh where it is known by the name of the Surma and the Kushiyara and later called the Meghna before receiving the combined flow of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. The length of the Barak River from its origin upto the border of Assam along the Kushiyara is 564 km. The principal tributaries of Barak joining from north bank are the Jiri, the Chiri, the Modhura, the Jatinga, the Harang, the Kalain and the Gumra whereas the Dhaleswari, the Singla, the Longai, the Sonai and the Katakhal joins from south bank. The major part of basin is covered with forest accounting to 72.58% of the total area and only 1.92% of the basin is covered by water bodies. The basin spreads over 10 parliamentary constituencies (2009) comprising 3 of Assam, 2 of Tripura, 2 of Meghalaya, 1 each of Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland.

Salient Features of Barak and others Basin
Basin Extent

89° 50’ to 94° 0’ E
22° 44’ to 25° 58’ N
Length of Barak River (Km) 564 (in India)
Catchment Area ( 41723
Average Water Resource Potential(MCM) 48360
Utilizable Surface Water Resource(MCM) -
Live Storage Capacity of Completed Projects (MCM) 322.0
Live Storage Capacity of Projects Under Construction (MCM) 8988.0
Total Live Storage Capacity of Projects (MCM) 9310.0
No. of Hydrological Observation Stations (CWC) 44
No. of Flood Forecasting Stations (CWC) 5

The composite Ganga – Brahmaputra –Meghna basin covers nearly one-third of the land area of Indian Union. This basin is composed of the Ganga, the Brahmaputra and the Barak sub-basins. The Ganga joins the Brahmaputra in Bangladesh and continues its run under the name Padma or Ganga. It finally joins the Meghna river which outfalls into the Bay of Bengal. The basin extends to areas outside India.


The Barak sub-basin drains areas in India, Bangladesh and Burma. The drainage area of the sub-basin lying in India is 41723 sq. km. which is nearly 1.38% of the total geographical area of the country. It is bounded on the north by the Barail range separating it from the Brahmaputra sub-basin, on the east by the Naga and Lushai hills and on the south and west by Bangladesh. The sub-basin lies in the States of Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizpra, Assam, Tripura and Nagaland. The State-wise distribution of drainage area is give below:

State Drainage area (sq. km)
Total 41723

There are two major physiographic regions in the sub-basin, namely, the hilly region and the plains. The plains are thickly populated and extensively cultivated. The predominant oil types found in the sub-basin are laterite and red and yellow soils. The culturable area in the sub-basin 0.893 M. has which is only about 0.5% of the culturable area of the country.

River System

Barak raises in the Manipur hills and enters the plains near Lakhipur. The river enters Bangladesh as Surma and Kushiyara. Later, the river is called the Meghna and receives the combined flow of the Ganga and Brahmaputra. The principal tributaries of Barak are the Jiri, the Dhaleswari, the Singla, the Longai, the Sonai and the Katakhal.

Status of Surface Water Development

The water resources development of this sub-basin, so far, has not been satisfactory. There are only a few minor and lift irrigation schemes existing in the sub-basin. Tipaimukh dam and Dhaleswari project are the most important projects under consideration in the sub-basin.

Hydropower Development

The sub-basin has good hydropower potential. As per the latest assessment, the hydropower potential of the basin is 2042 MW at 60% load factor. Out of 32 schemes identified in the sub-basin, one scheme with an installed capacity of 15 MW is in operation which accounts for only 0.5% of the assessed potential. Bulk of the potential remains to be exploited. The master plan of Barak sub-basin, being finalized by the Brahmaputra Board, is giving adequate attention to this aspect.

Urban Centres and Industries

Imphal and Agartala are the two important urban centres in the sub-basin. Silchar and Aizawal are other important towns. There are no industries worth mentioning in this sub-basin.

Hydrologic Network

The Central Water Commission maintains 37 gauge-discharge sites in the sub-basin. The State Governments also maintains a few gauge discharge sites. The Central Water Commission also operates 2 flood forecasting stations in the sub-basin.


Floods, drainage congestion and bank erosion are problems of the sub-basin. Floods are caused by spilling over banks due to inadequate carrying capacity of the channels resulting from aggravation of the river beds and also backing up effect of the main river on its tributaries. Due to poor drainage, many depressions in the sub-basin remain waterlogged long after monsoon. A major problem in the hill areas used to be the practice of shifting cultivation locally known as jhuming, but this has been progressively brought under control. The Brahmaputra Board which has jurisdiction over this sub-basin also, is in the process of finalization of a master plan for the sub-basin which primarily focuses on the problems discussed above.

Water Resources

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