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Canalisation of Rivers in Punjab

Recently, intense rainfall across Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, Canalisation of Rivers in Punjab...


  • Recently, intense rainfall across Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, causes  a massive influx of water into Punjab’s rivers.
    • Experts talked about the canalisation of rivers could be a solution.


  • Punjab has experienced two major instances of flooding in the past month.
  • The first was due to intense rainfall across Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, leading to river influx.
  • The second occurred due to heavy rainfall in Himachal Pradesh, resulting in dam releases downstream.

Water Sources in Punjab

  • Perennial Rivers: Punjab is traversed by three perennial rivers: Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi.
  • Rivulets: Two rivulets, Chitti (eastern) and Holy (western) Beins, contribute to the water network.
  • Non-Perennial Rivers: Non-perennial monsoon rivers like Ghaggar and Chaki, along with 16 major seasonal streams, further contribute to the water system.
  • Minor Seasonal Rivulets: Minor streams known as choes and khads add to water flow during the monsoon.

Risk of Flooding and Regulation

  • Water sources originating from Himachal and Jammu & Kashmir bring substantial monsoon water to Punjab.
  • Dams filled to capacity can lead to downstream flooding even without local rainfall.
  • Effective regulation of rivers and water sources is needed.
  • Canalisation involves diverting water flow through channels, mini dams, interconnections, and embankments.

Current State of Canalisation

  • Significant dams like Bhakra Nangal, Pong Dam, and Ranjit Sagar exist on perennial rivers. Dhussi Bandhs (earthen embankments) are present along these rivers.
  • These embankments are vulnerable to breaches with modest increases in river flows.
  • Many local rivulets, drains, and Nullhas lack proper canalisation, increasing flood risks.

Role of Canalisation in Flood Prevention

  • Recent floods resulted from overflowing main rivers and local waterways.
  • July floods were due to heavy regional rainfall causing unregulated rivers and local waterways to overflow.
  • August floods resulted from excessive rainfall in Himachal, filling Bhakra Nangal and Pong dams, necessitating heavy downstream releases.
  • Canalisation would manage both local rain and dam releases. Long-term canalisation strategies and strengthening Dhussi Bandhs could mitigate flood risks.

Canalisation of rivers

This means regulating the river water by diverting it into certain channels which could be regulated by building mini dams or Dhussi Bandh to regulate the flow, connect the canal systems with the rivers and strengthen the embankments if needed. The purpose of this process is to optimize water distribution, prevent floods, improve navigation and improve the general use of water resources.

Challenges in River Regulation and Canalisation

The unchecked release of water from dams, particularly when at full capacity, poses a significant threat to downstream regions. Effective river regulation and canalisation are essential to address this challenge. Canalisation entails directing water flow through channels, incorporating mini dams for regulation, establishing interconnections between rivers and canal systems, and reinforcing embankments as required.

Current Status and Gaps in Canalisation

Punjab is equipped with major dams, such as the Bhakra Nangal Dam on the Sutlej, Pong Dam on the Beas, and Ranjit Sagar or Thien Dam on the Ravi. Additionally, Dhussi Bandhs, earthen embankments, line these rivers. However, their susceptibility to breaches, even during moderate increases in river flow, underscores their limitations. While some districts possess small earthen dams, many local rivulets, rainwater drains, and Nullhas lack proper canalisation, exacerbating flood risks.

Strategic Canalisation and Resilience

To avert future flood disasters, the Punjab Water Resources Department’s drainage wing suggests comprehensive canalisation strategies. These strategies entail not only yearly enhancements of Dhussi Bandhs but also their extension to 30 to 40 feet. These long-term initiatives could significantly mitigate flood risks. In essence, Punjab’s vulnerability underscores the urgency of canalisation efforts, which could effectively address both local rainfall and dam releases.

Read also:- Lakes- Rivers & Dams

Canalisation of Rivers in Punjab,Canalisation of Rivers in Punjab

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