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Indian Geography : Rivers in West Bengal
                                                                                                    April 23, 2017


The rivers in West Bengal

The rivers in West Bengal can be divided into three divisions:

  1. The Himalayan Rivers,
  2. The Rivers of the Chota Nagpur Plateau &
  3. The Tidal Rivers.

They can also be classified as

  1. Snowfed Rivers,
  2. Rainfed Rivers &
  3. Tide-fed rivers.

1. The Himalayan Rivers in West Bengal

The Ganga, the Bhagirathi-Hooghly, the Mahananda, the Balasan, the Mechi, the Tista, the Torsha, the Jaldhaka, the Great Rangit and the Little Rangit.

The Ganga river: The River Ganga flows through West Bengal for short distance only through Maldah, Murshidabad and Dinajpur district. It has been dammed (Barrage) at Tildanga where its main stream is channelized to Bhagirathi-Hooghly at Jangipur Barrage in West Bengal.

Bhagirathi-Hooghly river: The River Bhagirathi-Hooghly is known as the heart and soul of West Bengal. It flows through Murshidabad, Malda, Nadia, Hooghly, Howrah and 24 Pgs. It flows south and falls into the Bay of Bengal after forming a large delta at its mouth. Jalangi, Churni, Ajoy, Damodar, Rupnarayan, Haldi, Mayurakshi are the main river of Hooghly.

The Tista river: The Tista is an important river of North-Bengal. It is the combined force of the Lachin river of Tibet and Lochang of Sikkim. It is coming out of the Zemo glacier of the Himalayas. It is joined by the Great Rangit at Darjeeling. Floods are very frequent in the river. That is why Tista Barrage Project has been taken into account by which flood can be controlled. Finally, the river enters into Bangladesh and joins the river Yamuna (Brahmaputra in Bangladesh).

The Mahananda river: It rises from the Mahaldhiram of Ghum Range of the Darjeeling district. It flows through North-Bengal and joins the river Bhagirathi-Hooghly. It is the longest river of North Bengal. Its left bank tributaries are Nagar, the Tangan and the Punarbhaba and its right bank tributaries are Kalindi, Balsan and Mechi.

The Jaldhaka river: Jaldhaka river rises from the Sikkim—Himalayas, drains southwards through the Jalpaiguri district. It is longest river of the district. It is one of the major rivers of the Tarai-Duars region. It is the combined force of Dichu of Sikkim and the Lichu originate at Rishi La Lakes. The Daina, the Bindukhola, the Birukhola and Nakshalkhola are the tributaries of Jaldhaka.

The Torsha river: It is an important river of North Bengal and is a main tributary of the river Jaldhaka.

Mechi, Balasan, Rangit are the other Himalayan rivers and all of them are the tributaries of other rivers.

2. Rivers of the Chota Nagpur plateau in West Bengal

The rivers of the Chota Nagpur plateau are Darakeswar, the Mayurakshi, the Ajoy, the Damodar, the Rupnarayan, the Haldi, the Dwaraka, the Kansai, etc. These rivers are following the western part of West Bengal.

The Damodar: The Damodar is coming out from the Khamarpath hill of the Chhotonagpur plateau in Bihar. After flowing for about 289 km. in Bihar it enters West Bengal. Its major tributary is Barakar. It joins the right bank of the Hooghly. It used to create floods each and every year. That is why it was known as the sorrow of Bihar and Bengal. But the river has been dammed at several places under DVC scheme.

The Mayurakshi: The Mayurakshi River from the Trikut Hill of the Chhotonagpur plateau flows through the plateau and enters West Bengal in the Birbhum district and joins the Bhagirathi river. Its main tributaries are Bakreswar and Dwaraka.

The Ajoy: The Ajoy is also rising from the Chhotonagpur plateau flows through the plateau to the east and joins the Bhagirathi.

The Rupnarayan: The Rupnarayan is the joint flow of Silai and Dwrakeswar. It joins the Hooghly River at its mouth.

The Haldi: The Haldi is the joint flow of Kalighai and Kangsawati. Kangsawati rises in the Chhotonagpur plateau, flows through Purulia and Midnapore District. Kalighai joins the Kangsawati in the Midnapore district and the joint flows through the Hooghly at its mouth near Bay of Bengal.

The Subarnarekha: The Subarnarekha river in the Chhotonagpur plateau flows through Midnapore district enters Orissa and then falls into the Bay of Bengal.

The important distributaries of Bhagirathi-Hooghly are Bartala, Saptamukhi, Jamira, Mafia, Gosaba, Haribhanga, Vidyadhari, Peyali, Raimangal etc. All rivers are rainfed rives.

3. Tidal Rivers in West Bengal

The Rivers of the Active Delta Region are tidal rivers. They are Bartala, Saptamukhi, Jamir, Matla, Gosaba, Haribhanga etc. Water of these rivers is saline as they are influenced by high tides and low tides. During low tide, they get more or less dry but during high tides, they overflow their banks.