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Farakka Barrage

Farakka Barrage
Farakka Barrage is located in West Bengal
Farakka Barrage
Location of Farakka Barrage
Location Murshidabad & Malda, West Bengal, India
Construction began 1961
Opening date 1972
Construction cost INR156.49 crore
Dam and spillways
Impounds Ganges River
Length 2,240 metres (7,350 ft)

Farakka Barrage is a barrage across the Ganges River, located in the Indian state of West Bengal, roughly 16.5 kilometres (10.3 mi) from the border with Bangladesh near Chapai Nawabganj District. Construction was started in 1961 and completed in 1975 at a cost of 156.49 crore (US$25 million). Operations began on April 21, 1975. The barrage is about 2,240 metres (7,350 ft) long.[1] The feeder canal from the barrage to the Bhagirathi-Hooghly River is about 25 miles (40 km) long.[2]

The purpose of the barrage is to divert 1,100 cubic metres per second (40,000 cu ft/s) of water from the Ganges to the Hooghly River for flushing out the sediment deposition from the Kolkata harbour without the need of regular mechanical dredging. After commissioning the project, it is found that the diverted water flow from the Farakka barrage is not adequate to flush the sediment from the river satisfactorily. In addition, there are regular land/bank collapses in to the Ganga river due to the high level back waters of the Farakka barrage. Substantial high land is already converted in to low level river bed causing displacement of huge population.[3] The water diverted from the Farakka barrage is less than 10% of Ganga river water available at Farakka.[4] Indian government is contemplating to cement line/widen/deepen the Farakka feeder canal to increase the flow.


The Ganges is one of the major rivers of the world. It rises at an elevation of about 12,769 feet (3,892 m) in Gangotri on the southern slope of the Himalayan range. About one third of the total population of Bangladesh and about 50% of the Indian population live in the Ganges basin; 43% of the total irrigated area in the country is also in the Ganges basin and there are about 100 urban settlements with a total population of about 120 million on its banks. As a result, Bangladesh and India have had many debates about how the Farakka Barrage cuts off Bangladesh's water supply and how to share the water. Right from the beginning, this created a concern for Bangladesh as it constitutes the low-lying part of Gangotri. After the completion of the barrage at the end of 1975, it was agreed to run it with specified discharges for a period of 41 days from 21 April to 31 May during the remaining period of the dry season of 1975 under an accord announced as a joint press release on 18 April 1975. But after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 15 August 1975, relations between the two countries became greatly strained and India continued to withdraw water even after the agreed period. The diversions led to a crisis situation in Bangladesh in the dry season of 1976. In 1977, Bangladesh went to the United Nations and lodged a formal protest against India with the General Assembly of The United Nations, which adopted a consensus statement on November 26, 1976. Talks between the two countries were resumed in December 1976. No consensus was reached.[5]

Twenty years later, in 1996, a 30-year agreement was signed. It did not contain any guarantee clause for minimum amounts of water to be supplied to Bangladesh, nor were future hydrological parameters taken into account. As a result, the agreement failed to provide the expected result.[6] Negotiations continue to the present today. In Bangladesh, the diversion has raised salinity levels, contaminated fisheries, hindered navigation, and posed a threat to water quality and public health.[7] Lower levels of soil moisture along with increased salinity have also led to desertification.[8]

The barrage was constructed by Hindustan Construction Company. It has 109 gates and the two which collapsed were erected in 1975. Out of 109 gates, 108 are over the river and the 109th one over the low lying land in Malda, as a precaution. The Barrage serves water to the Farakka Super Thermal Power Station. There are also sixty canals which can divert the water to other destinations.

West Bengal has water supplied via its vast rivers. Food crops, fish stocks, trade, transportation, nature, environment, flora, and fauna are part of people's life lines that are the inhabitants in this area and by extension inhabitants, elsewhere. These groups are both directly dependent on the river system of the West Bengal region.

See also


  1. ^ "Farakka Barrage Project Farakka". 
  2. ^ Salman, Salman M. A.; Uprety, Kishor (2002). Conflict and cooperation on South Asia's international rivers: a legal perspective. World Bank Publications. pp. 135–136.  
  3. ^ "The Encroaching Ganga and Social Conflicts: The Case of West Bengal, India.". Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "Ganga river water flow data at Farakka, India.". Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  5. ^ A.T Abbas, B.M; The Ganges Water Dispute; pp 5, 9, 10. University Press limited, Dhaka (1984)
  6. ^ Nurul Kobir, a journalist of Bangladesh on first day of India-Bangladesh dialogue held 7–8 November on Dhaka
  7. ^ Wolf, Aaron T. “Water and Human Security.” Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education. 118. (2001): 29.
  8. ^ "Indo-Bangladesh Common Rivers: The Impact on Bangladesh." Contemporary South Asia. 1. 2. (1992):5.
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