Brahmaputra River System

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 31, 2022, 8:39

In a country where most rivers have female names, the Brahmaputra River stands out due to its rare male name. The Brahmaputra is a Sanskrit term that translates to "son of Brahma." But that is not the reason behind the Brahmaputra River System assuming significance.

The Brahmaputra flows through three other countries apart from India, namely Bangladesh, China, and Tibet. In India, this river crosses over the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Sikkim, and Nagaland. The Brahmaputra River System supports the livelihood of millions of people residing in India and Bangladesh. Let's look at some of the important aspects of the Brahmaputra River System.

Brahmaputra River System - Origin and Vital Facts

  • The Brahmaputra River traces its origin to Tibet. It originates in the Chemayungdung Glacier at an elevation of 5300m in the Kailash Mountain range in the Himalayas.
  • It is identified as the Yarlung Tsangpo River in Tibet. It enters India through Arunachal Pradesh and continues its journey through the Assam Valley and Bangladesh, where it is known as Jamuna. Finally, it flows into the Bay of Bengal.
  • As per new findings, the Brahmaputra is 3969 km long. It is the 15th longest river on earth.
  • Its drainage area is 712,035 km2, which is among the largest in India(1,4). The catchment area is 194413 km2.
  • The average discharge of the Brahmaputra River System is about 700,000 cubic feet per second.
  • The Brahmaputra has an average depth of 30 m, while its maximum depth is 135 m.
  • The river is prone to calamitous flooding and riverbank erosion in spring due to snow melting in the Himalayas.
  • The Saraighat Bridge was the first bridge built on the Brahmaputra in 1962 that supports both rail and road traffic.
  • At 9.15 km, the DholaSadiya Bridge spanning the river's Lohit tributary is India's longest bridge over water.
  • The Brahmaputra is a braided river. Its Majuli island is the largest river island in the world.
  • The river is highly susceptible to avulsion and channel migration. It tends to rapidly abandon its river channel and form a new channel.
  • The Brahmaputra is among the few rivers on earth that exhibit the phenomenon of a tidal bore.
  • About 55.48% of the river basin is covered with forests.
  • Geologically, the Brahmaputra is the youngest among the major rivers on earth.
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Major Tributaries of the Brahmaputra River System

The Brahmaputra is joined by several tributaries on its north and south banks. Some of the major tributaries on its north bank are the Lohit, the Subansiri, the Pagladiya, the Dhansiri (N), the Dibang, the Manas, the Jiabharali (Kameng), the Teesta, the Torsa, the Siang, and the Sankosh. Among the major tributaries that join it on the south bank are the Burhidihing, the Dhansiri (S), the Desang, the Kopili, the Digaru, the Krishna, and the Dudhnai.

Significance of Brahmaputra River System to People

About 130 million people live on the Brahmaputra delta and 600000 on the riverine islands. These people depend on the normal annual flooding of the river for agricultural and marine farming.

China revealed in April 2010 that they were constructing the Zangmu Dam in Tibet on the Brahmaputra. This can have a big impact on the river's flow in India. It also increases the risk of artificial floods due to mishandling the water flow.

The mighty Brahmaputra ensures water security, supports irrigation and serves as a vital inland waterway in the northeast. But heavy flooding and massive erosion of river banks are its main problems. India needs to implement concrete plans for river drainage to control floods and prevent bank erosion.

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FAQs on Brahmaputra River System

Q.1. Which is the highest point in the basin of the Brahmaputra River System?

The Kangchenjunga peak standing above 8000 m, is the highest point in the basin of the Brahmaputra River System.

Q.2. What is the length of the Brahmaputra River System in India?

In India, the Brahmaputra River System traverses about 916 km.

Q.3. What is the length of the National Waterway 2, Brahmaputra River System?

The National Waterway 2(NW2) is a stretch of the Brahmaputra River System in Assam that extends 891 km.

Q.4. Is there any dam built on the Brahmaputra River System in India?

Yes, Subansiri Lower Dam, Ranganadi Dam, Rangit Dam, and Dibang Dam are built on the Brahmaputra River System in India.