Padma River the downstream of the ganges, more precisely, the combined flow of the Ganges and the jamuna after their confluence at goalandaghat. In Bangladesh the Ganges is popularly known as the Padma from its point of entrance at Manakosa and Durlabhpur unions of shibganj upazila, nawabganj district. This name (Padma or Podda) is sometimes applied to the Ganges as far up as the point at which the Bhagirathi leaves its rightbank, and according to the Hindus, it takes the sanctity of the Ganges with it. It is hydrographically more correct to use the name Ganges to refer to the river up to its confluence with the Jamuna (brahmaputra), and the downstream after the confluence as the Padma. The Padma is also sometimes wrongly referred to as the Ganges. The river between Aricha and Sureshwar (Chandpur) is therefore best called Padma.

The Padma is 120 kilometres long and from 4 to 8 km wide. The very important Goalandaghat-Chandpur steamer route is mostly on this river. Near Tepakhola, 14 km from Goalandaghat, the small Faridpur Khal distributary takes off from the rightbank. Fifty kilometres further down the arial khan takes off from the rightbank. Fourteen kilometres further downstream the Lohajang river falls into it at lohajang upazila on the leftbank, and the Kristanagar river branches off from the opposite side. A few kilometres from Lohajang, the Shosha Khal and the Naria Khal take off from the rightbank, join up and as one stream falls into the Arial Khan south of madaripur. The Padma joins the Meghna 5 km from Sureshwar in a maze of shifting shoals and chars. The Lower Meghna is actually a continuation of the joint flow of the Padma and the Meghna.

The Ganges-Padma is the major hydrodynamic system that formed one of the world’s largest delta complex covering a major portion of the country and also a greater part of West Bengal in India. For a long period of development of the Ganges Delta, the river shifted southeast and has reached its present position in the Bengal Basin. The hydrology and drainage systems of the Ganges Delta in the southwestern part of Bangladesh are intimately related to the mighty Ganges and the fluvio-hydrological setting of the Bengal Basin. The deltaic estuaries of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna system drain the combined discharges of these river systems, amounting on an average of 35,000 cumec. However, during the monsoon the discharge of the Padma rises to the order of 750,000 cumec with a corresponding increase in its sediment load. The low-level discharge of the river during the dry season is of the order of 15,000 cumec, and naturally very little sediment is borne by the river during this period. In the deltaic portion the river width ranges from 1.6 to 8.0 km and sometimes it shows a braided character although it is a meandering river.

Meghna River one of the major rivers in Bangladesh, specially famous for its great estuary that discharges the flows of the Ganges-Padma, the Brahmaputra-Jamuna and the Meghna itself. The downstream of surma river from Ajmiriganj is often referred to as the Meghna. The matter would be simpler but for the fact that from Madna downstream for about 26 km (in a straight line) one of the two channels of the Surma-Meghna is known as the dhaleshwari. The channel from Ajmiriganj down to the confluence with the Dhanu is referred to as the Surma. This confluence is five kilometres east of Kuliarchar and north of Bhairab Bazar. Downstream from this point, the river is referred to as the Meghna.

The Meghna has two distinct parts. The Upper Meghna from Kuliarchar to Shatnol is a comparatively small river. The Lower Meghna below Shatnol is one of the largest rivers in the world because of its wide estuary mouth. The Lower Meghna is at times treated as a separate river.

The Meghna receives the old brahmaputra on its right at Bhairab Bazar. A little above the confluence, the Meghna has a railway bridge-‘Bhairab Bridge’-and a road bridge-‘Bangladesh-UK-Friendship Bridge’ over it. The width of the river there is three-quarters of a kilometre. Several small channels branching off from the Meghna and meandering through the lowland bordering the Tippera Surface receive the flow of a number of hilly streams and rejoin the main river downstream. The most important of these offshoots is the titas, which takes off south of Ghatalpar and after meandering through two long-bends extending over 240 km rejoins the Meghna through two channels in Nabinagar upazila. Other offshoots of the Meghna are the Pagli, Kathalia, Dhonagoda, Matlab and Udhamdi. The Meghna and these offshoots receive water of a number of hilly streams from the Tripura Hills. The important hill streams are the gumti, Kakrai, Kagni, dakatia, Hawrah, Sonaiburi, Harimangal, Pagli, Kurulia, Balujuri, Sonaichhari, Handachora, Jangalia and. All of these are liable to flash floods. The Gumti, Kakrai and Hawrah are the most destructive rivers. They have silted their beds to the extent that they now flow above the mean level of the land when brimful. Numbers of embankments have been built to contain them. But every other year one or the other of these streams overflows and causes considerable damage to crops, livestock and homestead.

The Meghna receives Tippera Surface streams from the east and flows from the enlarged Dhaleshwari from the west. At the confluence, just north of Shatnol, the Meghna is about five kilometres wide. Dhaleshwari comes down in a brown stream and meets the clear blue-green Meghna. For many kilometres the waters do not seem to mix, for half the river water remains brown and the other half blue-green. The boatmen are fond of pointing out this peculiarity.

Sixteen kilometres from Shatnol, the combined flow of the Ganges and Brahmaputra-Jamuna, known as the padma, meets the Meghna at a 11 km wide confluence in the rainy season near Chandpur. From this point southwards the Meghna is marked as the Lower Meghna, becoming one of the broadest rivers and largest estuaries in the world.

Lower Meghna is the combined stream of the Padma and the Meghna (Upper Meghna), reinforced by the Dhaleshwari. All the three rivers are large. The Dhaleshwari-Meghna and the Padma are each 5 km wide at the confluence. The Lower Meghna has several small chars (braid-bars) in it, which create two main channels, of which the large eastern one is 5 to 8 km wide. The western channel is about 2 km in width. Near Muladi the 1.5 km wide Safipur river is an offshoot from the right-bank. Further south, the Lower Meghna shifts into three channels: west to east flowing tentulia (Ilsha) river, the Shahbazpur and the Bamni. The Ilsha is a 5 to 6.5 km wide channel separating Bhola Island from the Barisal mainland.

West of the mouth of the Ilsha is the Rabnabad islands. Shahbazpur Channel, 5 to 8 km wide, separates Bhola from Ramgati and Hatiya islands and at its mouth are the Manpura islands. Bamni now is said to be nonexistent. Formerly it used to flow between the islands of Ramgati and Char Lakshmi and the Noakhali mainland, and was at times the main outlet for Meghna. The tides and their bores always affected it considerably, and this channel narrowed or widened in an unpredictable manner. After eroding a considerable part of the mainland in the 1940s, it suddenly shoaled to such an extent, just west of Noakhali town, that in winter there was a land bridge from the mainland to Ramgati Island. To make this a permanent feature, a large earthen cross dam was built. To accelerate the accretion of chars, a second cross dam was built linking Noakhali mainland and Char Jabbar which rapidly built up nearly 260 sq km of land.

The estuary of the Lower Meghna is usually taken to stretch from the Rabnabad islands to the Kumira coast, a distance of 153 km. The water is, however, saline for half of the year as far north, as a line could be drawn from the middle of Bhola to the north of Sandwip. The estuary of the Lower Meghna may be considered as extending between the Ilsha (Tentulia) and Shahbazpur rivers which together have a width of about 40 km at the sea-face. The volume of the estuarine discharge is not known, but at Chandpur the mean discharge from June to October is around 2.5 million cusec. The mean maximum in this period of the year is about four million cusec. The winter flow is about one-eighth of it although the river is even then several kilometres wide. The low flow is due to the stream’s sluggishness. In maximum flood, the Lower Meghna’s flow is no less than five million cusec. It is also estimated that from May to October its daily load of sediments is nearly four million tons. The annual load of sediments carried by it is about 1,500 million tons and annual water discharge about 875 million acre-feet (MAF). In comparison, the Congo, La Plata and Yangtse rivers have a total annual flow of 1,022, 636 and 559 MAF respectively. The Lower Meghna, as the major outlet of the combined Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna has therefore somewhat less outflow than the Congo, which is second only to the Amazon.

The Lower Meghna (160 km) is measured from the south of Chandpur to as far as the Tentulia. The flow is estimated for a point mid-way between Chandpur and Mehendiganj. The total length of the Surma-Meghna is about 670 km. The length of the Upper Meghna is measured up to Chandpur, but the discharge is measured at Bhairab Bazar.

A larger number of settlements, towns, ports and industries have sprung up on both the banks of the Meghna. Narsingdi, Chandpur, Barisal and Bhola are the district towns that stand on the banks of the Meghna. Kuliarchar, Bhairab Bazar, Chandpur (Puran Bazar), Ramdaspur, Kalupur and Daulatkhan are important riverports and business centres. The Ashuganj thermal power plant and the Fenchuganj fertiliser factory are located on the banks of this river.

The Meghna is a flood-prone river. The bangladesh water development board (BWDB) has implemented the Meghna Valley Project and constructed embankments along the riverbanks. These embankments are protecting greater Sylhet, Mymensingh and Comilla districts from floods. By constructing dams at different places a total of 180,000 ha of land has been brought under irrigation. About 125 km of dams (Veri Bandh) have been constructed in the southern region of Bangladesh under the coastal enbankment project. These are helping to control floods and keep salinity off. These Veri Bandhs are also playing an important role in land reclamation.

Dhaleshwari River a distributary of the jamuna, takes off in the northwestern part of tangail district. It is a meandering river having two branches. The main stream flows north of manikganj and joins the other branch, the Kaliganga, south of Manikganj. The Kaliganga again joins with the Dhaleshwari. The buriganga was once a distributary of the Dhaleshwari and used to discharge its flow again into the Dhaleshwari. It meets the shitalakshya river near narayanganj and flows south to meet the meghna near Shaitnol and then loses its separate identity. Total length of the river is about 160 km.

Ichamati River an old river, once well-known as the main river on the west of Dhaka. The river originates from the south of Jafarganj opposite to the mouth of the hurasagar near Nathpur Factory and runs towards Joginighat in Munshiganj. Five pilgrimage ghats [Panchatirtha ghat]-Tirthaghat, Agla, Solepur, Barunighat and Joginighat stand along the river. Joginighat is situated at the confluence of the brahmaputra and the Ichamati. Ichamati is the name of another channel originating from the ganges at Rayta, northwest of Bheramara in Kushtia. The river first flows west and then follows a southerly direction through Kushtia. The Ichamati is a trans-boundary rivers and enters India at Darshana. Then it flows south along the Bangladesh-India border and is renamed as the Kalindi at Debhata upazila of Satkhira district. It falls into the bay of bengal as the Hariabhanga. Again, there is another river of the name Ichamati in Dinajpur and the map of James Rennel shows that the Ichamati of Dhaka and the Ichamati of Dinajpur are the same river. According to a number of hydrologists, these three Ichamati rivers, in the past were a single channel.

Shitalakshya River originates from the old brahmaputra and bifurcates into two courses at Toke in Gazipur district. One of the courses named the banar flows southwest and at Lakpur is renamed as the Shitalakshya. It then flows east of Narayanganj town. The Shitalakshya falls into the dhaleshwari near Kalagachhiya. The length of the river is about 110 km and the width near Narayanganj is about 300 m but reduces to about 100 m in the upper reach. Its highest discharge has been measured at 2,600 cumec at Demra. The river is navigable throughout the year and shows little erosional tendency.

In the past, the famous muslin industry of the country flourished along the Shitalakshya. At present, a number of heavy industries including the adamjee jute mills, stand on the banks of Shitalakshya. There are three thermal powerhouses located at Palash, north of Ghorashal, and one at Siddhirganj, on the bank of the river. The important riverport of Narayanganj is also situated on its bank. The river was once famous for its clear and cool water. The river goes under tidal effect for about five months of the year but never overflows its banks.


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