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The name "India" is a reference to the Indus River. Originating in the Tibetan plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar, the river runs a kilometer mile course, through Ladakh district in Kashmir and Northern Areas, flowing through the North in a southerly direction along the entire length of country, and merges into the Arabian Sea near Pakistan's port city Karachi.

The river's estimated annual flow stands at around cubic kilometers. Originating with water from snow and melting glaciers , the river supports an ecosystem of temperate forests, plains and arid countryside. Most scholars believe that settlements of Gandhara grave culture of the early Indo-Aryans flourished in Gandhara from to B.

The Indus was crossed by the retreating armies of Alexander the Great , and by the Muslim armies of Muhammad bin Qasim, Mahmud of Ghazni and Babur , who crossed the river to strike into the inner regions of Gujarat, Punjab and Rajputana.

The slow and dangerous death of Pakistan’s Indus river delta

The Indus River provides vital water resources for the economy of Pakistan, especially for the breadbasket of Punjab province, which accounts for most of the nation's agricultural production, and Sindh. Access to the waters of the Indus has been a subject of contention between India and Pakistan , who signed the Indus Waters Treaty in The ultimate source of the Indus is on the Tibetan plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar; it begins at the confluence of the Sengge and Gar rivers that drain the Nganglong Kangri and Gangdise Shan mountain ranges.

The Indus then flows northwest through Ladakh -Baltistan into Gilgit, just south of the Karakoram range. The Shyok, Shigar and Gilgit streams carry glacial waters into the main river. It gradually bends to the south, coming out of the hills between Peshawar and Rawalpindi. The Indus passes gigantic gorges - meters 15,, feet high near the Nanga Parbat massif. It swiftly flows across Hazara, and is dammed at the Tarbela Reservoir. The Kabul River joins it near Attock. The remainder of its route to the sea is in plains of the Punjab and Sind, where the river becomes slow-flowing and highly braided.

It is joined by Panjnad River at Mithankot. Passing by Jamshoro, it ends in a large delta to the east of Thatta, near Pakistan's port city, Karachi. The total length of the river is kilometers miles. The river has a total drainage area exceeding 1,, square kilometers , square miles. Its estimated annual flow stands at around cubic kilometers. Beginning at the heights of the world with glaciers , the river feeds the ecosystem of temperate forests, plains and arid countryside.

It has 20 major tributaries. The Indus is one of the few rivers in the world that exhibits a tidal bore. The flow of the river is also determined by the seasons; it diminishes greatly in the winter, while flooding its banks in the monsoon months from July to September.

Anwer Pirzado-Indus [Sindhu] and It's Delta-Anwer Pirzado Academy () | Indus River | Sindh

There is also evidence of a steady shift in the course of the river since prehistoric times; it has deviated westwards from flowing into the Rann of Kutch. The Indus provides the key water resources for the economy of Pakistan, especially the breadbasket of Punjab province, which accounts for most of the nation's agricultural production, and Sindh.

It also supports many heavy industries and provides the main supply of potable water in Pakistan. Paleolithic sites have been discovered in Pothohar, with the stone tools of the Soan Culture. In ancient Gandhara , evidence of cave dwellers dating to 15, years ago has been discovered at Mardan. There is an Indus site on the Oxus river at Shortughai in northern Afghanistan , [1] and the Indus site Alamgirpur at the Hindon river is located only twenty-eight kilometers from Delhi.

Among the settlements were the major urban centers of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, as well as Lothal, Dholavira, Ganeriwala, and Rakhigarhi. Only 90 to 96 of the over known Indus Valley sites have been discovered on the Indus and its tributaries. In Harappan times, the Sutlej, now a tributary of the Indus, flowed into the Ghaggar-Hakra River, in the watershed of which were more Harappan sites than along the Indus.

Sanskrit sindhu generically means "river, stream," probably from a root sidh "to keep off"; sindhu is attested times in the Rigveda, 95 times in the plural, more often used in the generic meaning. Already in the Rigveda, notably in the later hymns, the meaning of the word was narrowed to refer to the Indus River in particular, for example in the list of rivers of the Nadistuti sukta. This resulted in the anomaly of a river with masculine gender; all other Rigvedic rivers are female, not only grammatically, but in the way they are referred to as goddesses and compared to cows and mares yielding milk and butter.

The Indus has formed a natural boundary between the Indian hinterland and its frontier with Afghanistan and Iran. It was crossed by the armies of Alexander the Great , when the Greek forces retreated along the southern course of the river at the end of the Indian campaign. The Indus River feeds the Indus submarine fan located in the Arabian Sea , which is the second largest sediment body on the Earth at around 5 million cubic kilometers of material eroded from the mountains.

Studies of the sediments in the modern river indicate that the Karakoram Mountains in northern Pakistan are the single most important source of material, with the next largest contribution from the Himalaya, mostly via the large rivers of the Punjab the Ravi, Jhellum, Chenab and the Sutlej. Analysis of sediments from the Arabian Sea by marine geologists Peter Clift and Jerzy Blusztajn has demonstrated that prior to five million years ago the Indus was not connected to these Punjab Rivers, which instead flowed east into the Ganges.

Earlier work, also by Peter Clift, showed that sand and silt from western Tibet was reaching the Arabian Sea as early as 45 million years ago, implying the existence of an ancient Indus River by that time. The delta of this proto-Indus river has subsequently been found in the Katawaz Basin, on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Most recently the Indus was paralleled by the ancient Saraswati River, which the Rigveda suggests flowed from the Himalaya between the Sutlej and the Yamuna Rivers, close to modern day Chandigarh.

Archaeological hydrological radio carbon datings indicate that the Saraswati river was totally dry by B.

Indus Delta

The Indus delta is one of the driest in the Indian subcontinent, lying just to the west of the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. Rainfall is unusually erratic owing to the passage of cyclones from the Arabian Sea. The Punjab plains, however, receive considerable rainfall from the summer monsoon: at Abbottabad the average annual rainfall is around 1, millimeters 47 in. The upper basin of the Indus receives 10 - 20 millimeters in.


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Higher elevations in Kashmir and the Northern Areas receive a large amount of precipitation in the form of snow, but the lower valleys are extremely dry and quite warm in the summer. Jacobabad, which is one of the hottest spots in the world, lies to the west of the river in Sindh. Accounts of the Indus valley from the times of Alexander the Great's campaign indicate a healthy forest cover in the region, which has now considerably receded. The Mughal Emperor Babur writes of encountering rhinoceroses along its bank in his memoirs, the BaberNameh.

Extensive deforestation and human interference in the ecology of the Shivalik Hills has led to a marked deterioration in vegetation and growing conditions. The Indus Valley regions are arid with poor vegetation. Agriculture is sustained largely due to irrigation. The blind Indus River dolphin Platanista gangetica minor is a sub-species of dolphin found only in the Indus River. It formerly also occurred in the tributaries of the Indus river. A popular view circulating in the media is that the loss of lives and livelihoods was due to the encroachment of the river bed by the poor.

Indeed, just like the diara s and the char lands of the Gangetic plains, a large number of indigenous communities lived in and around the Indus river bed — in the Kachha or the fragile or wet land , the Baet the doab or the mound between two permanent river branches and the Pakka lands or the firmer ground. Some of these communities are unrecognised and have no proof or identity card as legal citizens of Pakistan. Over years of living with the river, these communities had finely-tuned understanding of how the river behaves, how the floodwaters rise and fall, and which wrinkles on the land they flow through.

But, the extraordinary downpours, the sudden rise of the waters, the lack of warning and the unpredictable movements of rushing floodwaters through the breaches in the embankments have made all that irrelevant this year. They enhanced the misery by creating a false sense of security amongst the rural peasants whose lives and livelihoods were washed away in the floods. Although in numbers of dead the disaster that has hit the nation is smaller than the Asian Tsunami, the scale of human suffering, particularly during the post-flood times, and the magnitude of the nearly impossible task of rebuilding innumerable livelihoods is far greater than the Tsunami.

Coming back to the questions posed early in this essay, no one could possibly predict and prevent the floods. It was by all measures an unusual natural event exacerbated by human folly in terms of water resource planning and development.

Villain two: Climate change

One could, however, certainly ensure that the magnitude of its after-effects was within human ability to deal with. The Pakistani government is poorly equipped to deal with the human aftermath. This is where all of us as individuals can play a role. We still have the time to help the flood-affected people, and assist them to rebuild their lives. Erudite scholarship with extraordinary prose. This is exemplary literature.

Well described. I think this article supports the importances of interdisciplinary approach in water resources planning and development.

I specially request hard core water engineers and bureaucrats to go through this article. Public works programs for increased employment will mean that the poor are lured into building infrastructure for their own destruction. Official relief camps in urban areas ease service delivery but are also a source of grave sanitation and hence disease problems in the absence of emergency toilets, burdening the already inadequate water supply.

As can be imagined, women are suffering the most. Many of the landless evacuees are unlikely to return, unless they have credible hopes for better livelihoods. But land reform will be thwarted by donors, and pressure reduced as urban poor increase. Near Thatta, a small town in the Indus delta, Sujawal is completely under water. Its history is insightful.

Starved of water by upstream agriculture, the delta allowed Sujawal to expand recklessly. Now flood, but really natural flow is a check on such mindless urbanisation. My work supports the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum in Sindh. We should not forget the role of forest in managing the floods and embankments of indus river.

Unfortunately, along the banks of Indus River forests have been erased and land is cultivated. If we really want to control the risk of future floods, we would have to protect and promote the forests. Excellent brief presentation of causes of flooding in Indus in particular, and in all other places in South Asia!

Exactly this argument was presented by the report of the World Commission on Dams in which was overlooked ignored by many governments as well as donor agencies. But unfortunately their suggestions and perspective are not taken into consideration when constructing embankments on the rivers. Thanks Kuntala didi for this brilliant essay!

Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River

How can you spend so much time writing such an in-depth article and not once consider the role that timber smugglers and the recent decades of rapid escalations of deforestation? Dear Deane, Thank you for drawing my attention to this important aspect which I had missed. And Salam, thanks to you too for earlier mentioning this. At least one can safely say that upland deforestation is not entirely responsible for lowland floods. Perhaps I was thinking about the flood from a political ecology perspective — and trying to point out that those who have been so terribly affected by the floods, whose livelihoods were washed away, were not the ones who benefitted from the irrigation projects.

Otherwise, we will continue to receive the kind of wisdom that the World Bank offers on water management. She also stressed that it is vital for the Government to take concrete measures to demonstrate that transparency and fiduciary controls over aid money are a high priority. The Bank is willing to assist in setting up instruments to track aid flows, and establishing sound procurement practices, grievance mechanisms, and robust monitoring and evaluation systems.

Guerrero also met with development partners to enhance donor coordination and to find ways for increased effectiveness of development and bilateral finances. This is a great summary of the floods for school students, as Kuntala looks not only at what created the weather pattern but also changes in river management and power relationships. And thanks for mentioning the role of geography in understanding the disaster. Useful, but would have benefited hugely from specifics of rainfall, damages, mis management of specific river stretches, canals, embankments, institutional, legal mechanisms that were supposed to work and did not and how the specific stretch were protected by sacrificing another specific stretch… long wish list, but I guess that is required for better understanding of what happened..

Its a very useful analysis to understand how floods had affected the lives of millions in the Indus Flood Plain. South Asia Research Institute news and events. Australia-India Institute events. See News and Events page for more news and events. Subscribe Your email:. Indus floods, why did the Sindhu break its agreement? September 1, Posted by southasiamasala in : Lahiri-Dutt, Kuntala , Pakistan , trackback Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt Something as simple and as small as the fluttering of the wings of a butterfly might set off a tornado in another, far away, place. Source: Wikipedia A pinch of geography would introduce us into the answers more clearly and would explain why Pakistan received such an extraordinary amount of rain during this rainy season.

Tags: climate change , floods , irrigation , Jet Stream , Pakistan. Comments 1. Rohan D'Souza - September 2, Brilliant. Rajesh - September 2, Well described.