• The Ganga, especially, is the river of India,
beloved of her people, round which are
intertwined her memories, her hopes and
fears, her songs of triumph, her victories
and her defeats. She has been a symbol of
India’s age-long culture and civilization,
ever changing, ever flowing, and yet ever
the same Ganga.
• -Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India
• Has multiple-use
potential for its
• Least developed
region in the world.
The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Barak Basin
• The basin is shared
(80%), and Nepal.
• Positions of each
country in relation
to each other
Dams on the Ganga
• Dam diverting Himalayan snowmelt to Upper
• Farakka Barrage diverts water from Ganges into
the Bhagirathi River
– Caused dispute between Bangladesh and India
– Ganges Water Treaty of 1996
Availability at Farakka
Share of India
Share of Bangladesh
70,000 cucecs or less
Balance of flow
75,000 cusecs or more
Balance of flow
*Subject to the condition that India and Bangladesh each shall receive guaranteed 35,000 cusecs
of water in alternate three 10-day periods during the period March 1 to May 10.
Pollution in the Basin
• Leather industry
• One billion liters of
raw sewage a day
• Inadequate cremation
• The Ganga Action
Plan – India attempts
to clean up?
Hindu myth in the Basin
• Bathing in water will
cleanse sins and is
• Waters cleanse any
place or object.
• Ashes of dead in the
river will carry souls
• ‘Nowhere is the problem of cooperation
between riparian neighbors as critical as in
the Ganges-Brahnaputra basin in South
Asia. Nowhere are the benefits from
cooperation as spectacular for the futures of
the countries involved, and nowhere is the
penalty for non-cooperation as devastating’
• Former Secretary of India
Questions for Discussion
• 1. Why have the riparian states sharing the basin not taken advantage
of the vast economical potential of their water resources?
• 2. What effect may the Hindu religious beliefs regarding the Ganga
have on future water agreements?
• 3. What effect will China’s lack of participation in basin hydropolitics
have on any decision made by India, Bangledesh, Bhutan, and Nepal?
• 4. Are the current bilateral agreements between India and the other
riparian states effective?
• 5. Is the Ganges Water Treaty between Bangledesh and India a good
solution to the water allocation issues between the two states? What
effects could harsh weather conditions have on the agreement?
• 6. Should an agreement such as the Ganges Water Treaty include
agreements regarding pollution, additional water projects, and
environmental issues? Or should one issue be tackled at a time?
• 7. What affect may third party involvement have on the basin