2 Brahmaputra is the biggest of the Indian rivers, even bigger than the Ganga. Brahmaputra is regarded as one of the great rivers of southern Asia (1,800 mi) long. In Sanskrit, it means "son of Brahma".
3 Legend Behind Brahmaputra In the ancient Indian tradition, two rivers are known to originate from Manasarovar Lake, in Mt. Kailas; one flowing to the east is called Brahmaputra and the other flowing to the west was called Shatadru, a tributary of the Sarasvati (joining the latter at Shatrana, Punjab) in Rigvedic times. Both these major rivers, Brahmaputra and Sarasvati are related to the God of creation, Brahma. The lower portion of the river is sacred to Hindus.
4 The river's three names, the Brahmaputra (India), Yarlung Zangbo (Tibet), and Jamuna (Bangladesh), reflect the social fabric of ethnic groups and international communities living along its banks. The river is considered to be a symbol of synthesis of people of all religions, castes and creeds. The river Brahmaputra drains a vast area of nearly 9,36,800 sq. kms. It is a river of immense importance and navigable from the Bay of Bengal to Assam, a distance of nearly 1,280 kms. It is a splendid waterway for commerce and travel.
5 The Course of Brahmaputra After entering the hills of Assam Brahmaputra flows to Guwahati. Here lies a very ancient place of pilgrimage, the temple of goddess Kamakhya on a hill. The river then passes through Umananda Bhairab, with its granite foundations rising from the lap of the river. The river then reaches Pandughat, close to which lies the hill station of Shillong. The river flows through various towns till it reaches Goalundo. It is here that the river Ganga joins it to form the river Padma.The river then flows towards Calcutta and then finally empties itself in the Bay of Bengal.
7 Causes of changes in its ecology The great earthquake of 1950 created havoc, specially in the upper reaches of the Himalayas in and around the Siang and the Diboug river courses as well as in the upper Assam plains. There was considerable impact on the topography on both sides of the Brahmaputra Valley. This natural calamity was mainly responsible for the abrupt changes in the river ecology. The river Brahmaputra and its many tributaries in upper Assam badly suffered due to blockage caused by uprooted trees, boulders and soil erosion.
8 Comparison between past and present condition In the pre-earthquake period there was complete harmony between the people and the river ecology. Floods were tackled in an indigenous way and were hardly considered a menace. The recurring floods were responsible for the fertility of the soil and for cleaning the stagnant water of the town. They were also responsible for a source of protein because of the large quantity of fish caught.In the post-earthquake period, because of engineering measures, there was a gradual change in the river ecology in and around Dibrugarh town which resulted in socio-economic problems.
9 Other changesA dam which was erected to protect the town from floods has became a source of fear for the people in the recent past. It has created a constant threat of flash floods in heavy rain due to a possible breach in the dam. People of the town living adjacent to the river have had to be shifted to multi-storied buildings or to high places a couple of times in the past. Arrangements for a public address system had to made to inform people about the flood situation and prevent panic.
10 Another factor reflected in the agricultural sector was due to the stoppage of annual silting. The people of the area after the earthquake faced the problem of normal growth and production of quality crops and vegetables. This resulted in the use of chemical fertiliser and resultant deterioration in kitchen garden produce.Fish became more expensive — because of the dyke and the natural drying of the ponds.
11 The drain around the town has become a health hazard The drain around the town has become a health hazard. This drain is now a constant source of water pollution.In pre-earthquake times Dibrugarh was a green town. Due to the change in the river ecology there are now fewer trees, herbs and shrubs, specially medicinal herbs.
12 Some suggested measures Instead of constructing an artificial dam to prevent river water overflowing the bank and low-lying areas, the natural process of flooding should have been allowed to continue. With the gradual removal of debris either naturally or by mechanical means, the fury of the floods would have eased in course of time. The traditional ecological crisis management system should have been studied by planners to make it more effective in dealing with the recurring floods and soil erosion.
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