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13 East-Flowing Rivers Between Mahanadi and Pennar Run Dry


According to data released by the Central Water Commission (CWC), at least 13 east-flowing rivers between the Mahanadi and Pennar basins are currently devoid of water. This alarming situation underscores the severity of the water crisis affecting these regions and highlights the urgent need for sustainable water management practices, conservation efforts, and effective water resource planning to address the growing water scarcity and ensure the availability of water for both human and ecological needs.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Crisis Faced by East-Flowing Rivers in India
  2. Reasons for the Drying of East-Flowing Rivers
  3. Measures to Address the Issue of River Drying

Crisis Faced by East-Flowing Rivers in India

Affected Rivers:

  • 13 east-flowing rivers between Mahanadi and Pennar are currently dry:
    • Rushikulya, Bahuda, Vamsadhara, Nagavali, Sarada, Varaha, Tandava, Eluru, Gundlakamma, Tammileru, Musi, Paleru, and Munneru.
  • These rivers flow through Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Odisha, draining into the Bay of Bengal.

Water Storage Decline:

  • Basin storage reached zero on 21st March, down from 32.28% capacity at the same time last year.
Water Crisis in Other River Basins

Deficient Water Storage:

  • Cauvery, Pennar, and east-flowing rivers between Pennar and Kanniyakumari are experiencing deficient or highly deficient water storage.
  • Ganga basin has less than half of its total capacity, lower than the same period last year.
  • Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, Mahanadi, and Sabarmati river basins also have reduced storage levels.

Overall Water Storage:

  • India’s 150 major reservoirs are at 36% of their total capacity in live storage.
  • At least six reservoirs have no water storage.
  • 286,000 villages in 11 states on the Ganga basin are facing water availability decline.

Drought Conditions:

  • 35.2% of the country’s area is under abnormal to exceptional drought conditions.
  • 7.8% under extreme drought and 3.8% under exceptional drought.
  • Karnataka and Telangana are dealing with drought and drought-like conditions due to rainfall deficits.

Reasons for the Drying of East-Flowing Rivers

  • Deforestation:
    • Reduced soil water retention leading to decreased groundwater recharge and river flows.
  • Changing Weather Patterns:
    • Irregular rainfall and increased temperatures affecting river flow.
    • Climate change causing prolonged droughts and reduced water flow.
  • Infrastructure:
    • Dams and water diversion for irrigation reduce downstream river flow.
    • Unregulated sand mining causing river flow disruption and erosion.
  • Water Pollution:
    • Industrial, agricultural, and domestic waste pollution.
    • Invasive species like water hyacinths degrading water quality and harming aquatic life.
  • Urbanization:
    • Urban expansion and encroachment altering natural river flow.
  • Awareness and Conservation:
    • Limited awareness and ineffective conservation measures impacting river health and flow.

Measures to Address the Issue of River Drying

Water Conservation Techniques:

  • Rainwater Harvesting: Capture and store rainwater to replenish groundwater.
  • Watershed Management: Manage and protect the natural resources in a watershed to improve water quality and quantity.
  • Soil Moisture Conservation: Implement practices to improve soil’s ability to retain moisture and reduce runoff.

Efficient Irrigation Practices:

  • Promote Drip Irrigation and Sprinkler Irrigation to reduce water wastage and ensure sustainable water use in agriculture.

Afforestation and Reforestation:

  • Increase vegetative cover to reduce soil erosion, improve groundwater recharge, and maintain river flow.

Groundwater Regulation:

  • Enforce strict regulations on groundwater extraction to maintain the base flow of rivers and prevent drying.

Interlinking Rivers:

  • Explore the feasibility of Interlinking Rivers to transfer surplus water from water-rich regions to water-deficient regions. For example, the Ken-Betwa River link project.

Community Involvement:

  • Engage local communities in water management and conservation efforts to ensure sustainable water use and maintain river flow.

Policy Reforms:

  • Implement policy reforms to promote sustainable water management practices, regulate water use, and combat river drying.

Research and Development:

  • Invest in research and develop new technologies and practices for water conservation and management to find innovative solutions to the problem.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024