Brahmaputra - The Mother Facing Her Own Chiildren...Humans

Brahmaputra by SPOT Satellite
Flooded villages along Brahmaputra plains
Yarlung Tsangpo river in Tibet. In India becomes very wide and is called Brahmaputra.
A view across the Brahmaputra near Sukleswar Ghat, Guwahati, Assam, India.

The Brahmaputra also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is a trans-boundary river and one of the major rivers of Asia.

From its origin in southwestern Tibet as the Yarlung Tsangpo River, it flows across southern Tibet to break through the Himalayas in great gorges and into Arunachal Pradesh (India) where it is known as Dihang. It flows southwest through the Assam Valley as Brahmaputra and south through Bangladesh as the Jamuna (not to be mistaken with Yamuna of India). In the vast Ganges Delta it merges with the Padma, the main distributary of the Ganges, then the Meghna, before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

Below are some salient issues concerning the Brahmaputra River in Assam, North-East India.

Global impacts:  Deforestation and fossil fuel burning are the two main culprits blamed for global warming.  As the world gets hotter, ice-caps melt, the sea rises and precipitation patterns change; leading to flooding and the permanent loss of land.  Deforestation is a huge problem around the banks of the Brahmaputra.  By supporting this campaign – you will not only be making a difference to those who suffer along its banks but you will also be helping to protect the planet from global warming.  In Assam, deforestation is caused by farmers who need land to grow crops as well as large timber companies.  By cutting down the trees the roots can no longer bind the soil and soil erosion occurs; this has resulted in increased siltation levels that result in flash floods, and soil erosion in critical downstream habitat such as the Kaziranga National park in middle of Assam whereby any flooding can result in the death of hundreds of endangered species that live in this protected area.

Flooding:  In 2004, a terrifying flood affected more than ten million people living in Assam, and killing 1,000 people in the district of Goalpara in the month of October.  Floods are becoming a common occurrence in the state of Assam in North-East India.  When the river bursts its banks, blocked and stagnant drains are unable to cope with the sudden influx of water and the land is soon awash with water.  Embankments provided by the government to protect the land and the people against this very problem have proved unreliable and faulty and desperately need to be updated.   In 2007, 10 million people became displaced when torrential floods swallowed up more than 400,000 hectares of land.  Flooding has a huge impact on the economy of Assam.  Tea gardens are often forced to completely close and tourist attractions such as Kaziranga National Park and Manas Tiger Reserve are often forced to close resulting in lost revenue.  Floods also have a big impact on human health.  The primary concern is the lack of suitable drinking water in times of flood leading to the spread of water-borne diseases such as malaria and diarrhea.

Erosion:  According an official report 429, 657 hectares of fertile agricultural land has already been swallowed up the almighty Brahmaputra.  Over the space of 50 years, between 1951-2000 this equates to 7% loss of land through erosion and has resulted in the displacement of 3 million peasants. 

Hydro-power projects: Projects such as the Ranganadi and Lower Subansiri Hydro Electric Projects have created many problems down stream including altering the river morphology and upsetting the fragile ecological balance of this habitat.  Species already affected include the endangered Gangetic dolphins which inhabit the Subansiri river channel.

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