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Geographical Boundaries and
Natural Relief

Before August 1947, the province of Punjab extended from river Indus (Sind) in the west to river Yamuna in the east. Its land had waters of river Sind and its tributaries Jehlum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Satluj and of river Yamuna. In August 1947, India was divided into two countries – India and Pakistan. This division concomitantly resulted in the creation of two Punjabs – East Punjab and West Punjab. The eastern part of the pre-partition Punjab, which remained in India, was called the East Punjab and the western part, which became part of Pakistan, was called the West Punjab. Subsequently, both the countries named their provinces as Punjab (India) and Punjab (Pakistan).

The international boundary between India and Pakistan cut across the Indus system of rivers. The Indus dispute between India and Pakistan was settled through the good offices of the World Bank with the signing of the Indus Treaty on September 19,1960 which conferred rights on India on the eastern rivers Ravi, Beas and Satluj after the transition period ending March 31,1970.Thus State of Punjab in which these rivers lie became entitled to unrestricted rights of development and use of their waters. Punjab being a riparian State of Yamuna continued to have its rights on Yamuna waters.

The State of Punjab was reorganized with effect from November 1,1966. A big chunk of its hilly areas was merged with Himachal Pradesh and the rest was bifurcated to form a new State Haryana and the present day Punjab. Haryana remained riparian to the river Yamuna and the rivers Ravi, Beas and Satluj continued to be intra-State rivers of the shortened Punjab State.

Here it will be pertinent to appreciate the connotations of a few relevant terms like river, valley etc. etc. while carrying on discussion of this subject futher. So, I have set out some definitions as gleaned from various dictionaries (mainly The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary) and technical write-ups.
River: a natural stream of water of fairly large size flowing in a definite course or channel or series of diverging and converging channels.

Riverbank : the slopes bordering a river
Riverbed: the channel in which a river flows
or formerly flowed
Riverhead: the source of a river
Riverine : (i) of or pertaining to a river
(ii) situated or dwelling beside a river.
River-side: (i) a bank of river
(ii) on or near a bank of a river.
Drainage basin: the area drained by a river and all its tributaries. Also called catchment area, drainage area Water right:
(i) the right to make use of the water from a particular stream, lake, or irrigation canal
(ii) riparian right
Waterscape: a picture or view of the sea or other body of water.
Water shed: the region or area drained by a river, stream etc.
(ii) the ridge or crest line dividing two drainage areas.
Riparian: situated or dwelling on the bank of a river or other body of water.
Riparian right: a right, as fishing or use of water for irrigation or power, enjoyed by a person who owns riparian
Valley: (i) any elongated depression between uplands, hills or mountains, especially one following the course of a stream.
(ii) an extensive, more or less flat, and, relatively low region drained by a great river system.
(iii) any depression or hollow resembling a valley.

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (Volume-26) – Macropaedia defines a river as under:

By original usage a river is a flowing water in a channel with defined banks (ultimately from Latin ripa,”bank”). Modern usage includes rivers that are multi-channeled, intermittent, or ephemeral in flow and channels that are practically bankless. The concept of channeled surface flow, however, remains central to the definition. The word stream (derived ultimately from the Indo-European root — srou) emphasizes the fact of flow; as a noun it is synonymous with river and is often preferred in technical writing.

Runoff : the movement of water over the surface of the Earth under the influence of gravity, in channels ranging from tiny streams to large rivers, is called runoff.

The rate or discharge of runoff is usually expressed as a volume per unit time.

Cu-sec: a unit of flow of one cubic foot per second Acre-foot: a unit of volume of water in irrigation: the quantum covering one acre with depth of one foot; equal to 43560 cubic feet (1233 cubic meters)

The excess soil water that drains through the soil under action of gravity becomes ground water. Practically all ground water originates as surface water. When depleted by wells it is necessary to replenish or recharge the ground water.

aterscape of the Punjab rivers Ravi, Beas and Satluj does not require much of hydrography to determine the riparian status of the area. Physical relief of north-western India manifestly depicts that Ghagar basin is the watershed between the Indus system rivers Ravi , Beas and Satluj flowing to the Arabian Sea in the west and Ganga-Yamuna basin draining out to the Bay of Bengal in the east. It cannot be inferred or even surmised, much less concluded, that any part of Haryana or Rajasthan is riparian to Ravi, Beas or Satluj or that any part of these two States lies in the valley or basin of these rivers which are so explicitly intra-State rivers of Punjab State.

Isn’t it apt to infer that rivers are living entities with intellect and soul? It is not for nothing that Hindu religious lore assigns so high a pedestal to Ganga and some other rivers. I have stridden along wide stretches of Ravi, Beas and Satluj from their snowy birth in the Himalayas to the last tip of Indian territory where they roll into Pakistan and found that they have not, even in their most playful abundance, cultivated any riparian relationship with Haryana or Rajasthan. Accordant with the accepted rule that self protection is the most important instinct of living organs, Ravi, Beas and Satluj have kept themselves aloof from the devouring soil of Haryana and Rajasthan which did not spare even the sacred Sarsvati.





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