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Hydro Meterological Observation Stations Map


The Ganga basin outspreads in India, Tibet (China), Nepal and Bangladesh over an area of 10,86,000
In India, it covers states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Union Territory of Delhi draining an area of 8,61,452 which is nearly 26% of the total geographical area of the country. The basin lies between east longitudes 73°2’ to 89°5’ and north latitudes 21°6’ to 31°21’ having maximum length and width of approx. 1,543 km and 1024 km. The basin is bounded by the Himalayas on the north, by the Aravalli on the west, by the Vindhyas and Chhotanagpur plateau on the south and by the Brahmaputra Ridge on the east.
The Ganga rises in the Gangotri glacier in the Himalayas at an elevation of about 7,010 m in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. At its source, the river is called as the Bhagirathi. It descends down the valley upto Devprayag where after joining another hill stream Alaknanda, it is called Ganga. The total length of river Ganga (measured along the Bhagirathi and the Hooghly) up to its outfall into Bay of Bengal is 2,525 km. The principal tributaries joining the river from right are the Yamuna and the Son. The Ramganga, the Ghaghra, the Gandak, the Kosi and the Mahananda join the river from left. The Chambal and the Betwa are the two other important sub- tributaries. The major part of basin in Indian territory is covered with agricultural land accounting to 65.57% of the total area and 3.47% of the basin is covered by water bodies. The basin spreads over 239 parliamentary constituencies (2009) comprising 80 of Uttar Pradesh, 40 of Bihar, 40 of West Bengal, 25 of Madhya Pradesh, 16 of Rajasthan, 12 of Jharkhand, 8 of Haryana, 5 of Uttarakhand, 4 of Chhattisgarh, 2 of Himachal Pradesh and 7 of Union Territory of Delhi.

Salient Features of Ganga Basin
Basin Extent

73° 2’ to 89° 5’ E
21° 6’ to 31° 21’ N
Length of Ganga River (Km) 2525
Catchment Area ( 861452
Average Water Resource Potential(MCM) 525020
Utilizable Surface Water Resource(MCM) 250000
Live Storage Capacity of Completed Projects (MCM) 48748.00
Live Storage Capacity of Projects Under Construction (MCM) 7703.00
Total Live Storage Capacity of Projects (MCM) 56451.0
No. of Hydrological Observation Stations (CWC) 288
No. of Flood Forecasting Stations (CWC) 87

The Ganga Above all, is the river of india which has held India's heart captive and drawn uncounter millions to her banks since the dawn of history.The story of the Ganga from her source to the sea, from old times to new, is the story of India's civilization and culture”
-Jawaharlal Nehru(Discovery of India)

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 Ganga sub-basin extends over an area of 1086000 sq. km and lies in India, Tibet , Nepal and Bangladesh. The drainage area lying in India is 861404 sq. km which is nearly 26.2% of the total geographical area of the country. The sub-basin is bounded on the north by the Himalayas, on the west by the Aravalis and the ridge separating it from Indus basin, on the south by the Vindhas and Chhotanagpur plateaus and on the east by the Brahmaputra ridge. The sub-basin lies in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Delhi. The State-wise distribution of the drainage area is given below:

State Drainage area (sq. km.)
Uttar Pradesh294364
Madhya Pradesh198962
West Bengal71485
Himachal Pradesh4317
U.T. of Delhi1484
Total 861404

The main physical sub-divisions are the Northern Mountains, the Gangetic Plains and the Central Highlands. Northern Mountains comprises the Himalayan ranges including their foot hills. The Gangetic plains, situated between the Himalayas and the Deccan plateau, constitute the most of the sub-basin ideally suited for intensive cultivation. The Central highlands lying to the south of the Great plains consists of mountains, hills and plateaus intersected by valleys ad river plains. They are largely covered by forests. Aravali uplands, Bundelkhand upland, Malwa plateau, Vindhyan ranges and Narmada valley lies in this region.

Predominant soil types found in the sub-basin are sandy, loamy, clay and their combination's such as sandy loam, salty clay loam and loamy sand soils. The culturable area of Ganga sub-basin is about 57.96 M. has which is 29.5% of the total culturable area of the country.

River System

The Ganga originates as Bhagirathi from the Gangotri glaciers in the Himalayas at an elevation of about 7010m in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand and flows for a total length of about 2525 km up to its outfall into the Bay of Bengal through the former main course of Bhagirathi-Hooghly. The principal tributaries joining the river are the Yamuna, the Ramganga, the Ghaghra, the Gandak, the Burhi Gandak, the Kosi, the Mahananda and the Sone. Chambal and Betwa are also the two other important sub-tributaries.

Status of Surface Water Development

The Ganga and Yamuna canal systems irrigate vast areas utilizing the perennial flow of the river. Important storages constructed in the basin include Matatial, Sarda Sagar, Ramganga, Bansagar dam (Interstate MP, UP, Bihar), Rajghat Dam (Interstate MP, UP), Chambal Valley dam (Gandhisagar, Ranapratap Sagar, Jawahar Sagar), Kangsabati, Tehri, Mayurakshi, Rihand and DVC reservoirs.

Hydropower Development

As per the latest assessment, the hydroelectric power potential of the basin is 20711 MW. As on 01/08/2013 total installed capacity of 4987.20 MW are in operation and a total installed capacity of about 1307.0 MW are in various stages of construction. These schemes together account for only 31.08% of the assessed potential of the basin. Therefore, a large part of the hydropower potential remains to be exploited. Major Hydro Power Stations in operation are Tehri,Koteshwar,Rihand, Rajghat, Chambal Valley, Yamuna Valley

Urban Centres and Industries

There are number of industrial centres located in the sub-basin such as Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Kanpur, Dhanbad, Durgapur etc., in addition to the metros of Delhi and Calcutta. Radio and Electronics, machine and machine tools, textiles, paper, jute, cement, fertilizers, iron and steel, coal mining are some of the important industries. Steel plant at Durgapur, fertilizer factory at Sindri, cement factory at Dalmianagar, coalmines of Dhanbad, BHEL at Haridwar, HMT at Kanpur, textile mills in Delhi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Kota and Bhilwara are some specific industries worth mentioning. In addition, a number of other agro-based industries are also located in the sub-basin.

Hydrologic Network

Hydrological observation in the sub-basin are carried out by the Central and State Governments. The Central Water Commission maintains 288 gauge-discharge sites in the sub-basin. The Central Water Commission operates 87 flood forecasting stations in the sub-basin.

Existing Organisations

Ganga, being a major interstate sub –basin, various Central and interstate bodies are involved in its planning, development and management. The Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), established in 1948, for the promotion and operation of schemes in the Damodar Valley for its alround development, is the earliest such organization. The participating States are Bihar and West Bengal and the Central Water Commission is assisting in the reservoir regulation of the DVC system. The Ganga Flood Control Commission (GFCC) was set up in 1972 by the Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India, for preparing a comprehensive plan of flood control for the sub-basin, monitoring important flood control projects in the sub-basin and providing technical guidance to the sub-basin States. The Betwa River Board was set up in 1973 for the execution of the interstate Rajghat dam on Betwa in accordance with the interstate agreement between UP and MP. Similarly the Bansagar Control Board was constituted in 1976 for the early execution of Bansagar dam on Sone which is an interstate project of UP, MP and Bihar. The Sone River Commission was set up in 1980 and operated upto August, 1988, as a sub-ordinate office of the Ministry of Water Resources of Sone river sub-basin.

With a view to study the deteriorating water quality in Ganga below Rishikesh and suggest remedial measures, the Govt. of India has set up the Central Ganga Authority in the Ministry of Environment and Forests.


The water related issues of the sub-basin are both due to high and low flows. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal are the States affected by floods. Many of the flood problems are caused by the northern tributaries of Ganga such Kosi and Mahananda though there are flood problems caused by Southern tributaries also. GFCC was set up, specifically to look into this problem.The flow during non-monsoon season is insufficient to meet the various requirements particularly drinking water supply, agriculture and industrial uses and other past committed uses. Simultaneously, there has been an increasing affluent discharge from industries and urban centres. This has caused water quality problems in many reaches of Ganga and Yamuna upstream of Allahabad. Central Ganga Authority under the Ministry of Environment and Forests is looking into the problem of pollution of Ganga.The Himalayas are comparatively young mountain ranges and are subject to many land slides. Also heavy soil erosion occurs due to various reason.The navigability of Hooghly river and the functioning of Calcutta port depends on adequate discharge of Ganga through the Bhagirathi.Maintaining sufficient discharge through this channel is a crucial problem.

Basic Description

  • The catchment area of the Ganga lies between east longitudes 73° 30’ to 89° 0’ and north latitudes 22° 30’ to 31° 30’ which falls in four countries, namely India, Nepal, Tibet, and Bangladesh with major part in India.
  • The Ganga basin extends over an area of 1,086,000km2.
  • The drainage area lying in India is 861452 km2 which is nearly 26.2% of the total geographical area of the country.
  • The total length of the Ganga River is 2,525 km. and the navigable length is 631 km.
  • The entire length of Ganga River in India can be divided in three stretches:
    • Upper reach from the origin to Narora
    • Middle reach from Narora to Ballia, and
    • lower reach from Ballia to its delta.
  • The main physical sub-divisions of the Ganga basin are
    • The Northern Mountains, comprise the Himalayan ranges including their foothills
    • The Gangetic Plains between the Himalayas and the Deccan plateau and
    • The Central Highlands, lying to the south of the Great Plains consists of mountains.
  • Predominant soil types found in the basin are sand, loam, clay and their combinations, such as sandy loam, loam, silty clay loam and loamy sand soils.


  • The Ganga and its tributaries have formed a large flat and fertile plain in North India.
  • The availabilities of abundant water resources, fertile soil, and suitable climate have given rise to a highly developed agriculture based civilization and one of the most densely populated regions of the world.
  • The net sown area in the Ganga basin in India is around 44 million hectares (M-ha) and the net irrigated area is 23.41 M-ha.
  • Migration of the tributaries draining the eastern part of the basin has resulted in conspicuous back-swamp and meander bolt deposits. These sedimentological features play a dominant role in the hydrodynamics of the region.

Water Quality

A sharp decline in the quality of Ganga water is due to increasing level of pollution from urban and industrial areas. The problem has arisen largely due to the discharge of untreated urban wastes and industrial effluents from the cascade of large and medium cities located along the course of Ganga and its tributaries. Although Ganga is considered as a holy river in mythology, people do not hesitate while dumping domestic and industrial waste in the river. Numerous cities located in the Ganga basin generate and discharge huge quantities of waste water, a large portion of which eventually reaches the river through natural drainage system. Over the years, the Ganga and its tributaries have become the channels of transport of industrial effluents and the drains for the wastewater of the cities. It is estimated that some 900 million litres of sewage is dumped into the Ganga every day; three-fourths of the pollution in the Ganga is from untreated municipal sewage. In particular the middle reach of the basin between Kanpur and Buxar is the most urbanized and industrialized, as also the most polluted segment of the basin. Municipal and industrial wastes with dangerous concentration find entry into the watercourse in this segment and pose a grave threat to society.
In the hilly reaches up to Rishikesh, Ganga water is quite clean except for sediments. From Rishikesh onwards, disposal of sewage into Ganga begins. Besides the municipal waste of Rishikesh and Haridwar, industrial units discharge partly treated effluents into the river. Haridwar City has a population of 1.5 lakh and nearly 60,000 people visit the city every day on an average. This number rises to a few lakh on important religious days and may go up to 15 lakh on the auspicious days during Kumbha Mela (fair).
Considerable lengths of sewer lines are clogged by silts that flow in from the adjoining hills. Further downstream from Haridwar, Ganga flows through Bijnor, Garhmukteshwar,Narora and Kannauj. Here, water is not much polluted as these two towns do not have any large industry. Moving downstream, the situation changes for the worse at Kanpur from the quality point of view. Sewage from the city (population 2.7 million) coupled with untreated toxic waste discharge from about 150 industrial units results in severe damage to water quality.
The mean value of DO at 3 mg/l at Jajmau, near Kanpur, reflects the levels of pollution caused by discharge from 80 tanneries and other industries. At Allahabad with population of more than a million, municipal wastes are the major contributor to river pollution. Yamuna whose water is highly polluted joins Ganga at Sangam. Large volume of municipal and industrial waste is dumped in the river at Varanasi, a city with approximately 1.2 million population. The Varuna River, which joins the Ganga in the vicinity of Varanasi, receives waste from many drains. Besides, due to the religious belief that those who die in Varanasi are sure to go to heaven, on average, more than 40,000 dead bodies are cremated on the river bank and the ashes and remains are dumped in the river.
Entering in Bihar, a number of industries (including fertilizer and oil refining) have come up along Ganga River. Patna is the most populous city whose wastes are dumped in the river. At Kolkota in West Bengal, the Hooghly (Ganga) river basin is highly populated as the waste water from numerous industries as well as municipal sewage is dumped in the river.
In view of the magnitude of water quality problems in the Ganga basin, two actions plans were launched by the government of India: the Ganga action plan and the Yamuna action plan.

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