The Ganges River Basin: Status and Challenges in Water, Environment and Livelihoods, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Ganges River Basin

Status and Challenges in Water, Environment and Livelihoods, 1st Edition

Edited by Luna Bharati, Bharat R. Sharma, Vladimir Smakhtin


328 pages | 104 Color Illus. | 32 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2016-08-31
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The Ganges is one of the most complex yet fascinating river systems in the world. The basin is characterized by a high degree of heterogeneity from climatic, hydrological, geomorphological, cultural, environmental and socio-economic perspectives. More than 500 million people are directly or indirectly dependent upon the Ganges River Basin, which spans China, Nepal, India and Bangladesh. While there are many books covering one aspect of the Ganges, ranging from hydrology to cultural significance, this book is unique in presenting a comprehensive inter-disciplinary overview of the key issues and challenges facing the region.

Contributors from the three main riparian nations assess the status and trends of water resources, including the Himalayas, groundwater, pollution, floods, drought and climate change. They describe livelihood systems in the basin, and the social, economic, geopolitical and institutional constraints, including transboundary disputes, to achieving productive, sustainable and equitable water access. Management of the main water-use sectors and their inter-linkages are reviewed, as well as the sustainability and trade-offs in conservation of natural systems and resource development such as for hydropower or agriculture.


"This book is a comprehensive treatment of the important aspects of the river, its basin and the millions of people inhabiting it. The scientific rigor and treatment of the varied subjects by the eminent researchers and authors from the three riparian countries – India, Nepal and Bangladesh – and those with international experience makes the chapters excellent pieces for understanding and appreciation of the complex issues related to this unique river system. I consider this book as an humble offering to the service of 'Ma Gange' and all those interested in its divinity, river science and technology, irrigation and hydropower, people, policies and governance and transboundary cooperation, and more importantly restoring its health and glory, shall find it very useful." – From the Foreword by Ravi Chopra, People Science Institute, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India

Table of Contents


Ravi Chopra

Part 1: Resources and Uses

1. Introduction

Luna Bharati, Bharat Sharma and Vladimir Smakhtin

2. Surface Water Resources

Sharad Kumar Jain, Marc A. Jeuland, Luna Bharati and Zahirul Haque Khan

3. Groundwater Resources

Dipankar Saha, Anwar Zahid, Surendra Raj Shreshtha and Paul Pavelic

4. Climate Change and the Ganges Basin

Marc A. Jeuland

5. Managing Variability: Floods and Droughts

Giriraj Amarnath, A.K.M. Saiful Islam and M. S. Shrestha

6. Agriculture and Water Use: Implications for Sustainable Intensification

Bharat Sharma, Alok K. Sikka, Ram Pratap Sah and Xueliang Cai

7. Hydropower: The Status and Challenges

Dwarika N. Dhungel, Santa Bahadur Pun, Sonali Mittra and M. Monirul Qader Mirza

8. Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities

Christopher A. Scott, Arica Crootof, Bhuwan Thapa and Rashmi Kiran Shreshtha

9. Ganges Water Machine: One Solution to Basin Water Problems?

Upali A. Amarasinghe and Lal Mutuwatte

Part 2: Environment

10. Environmental Flows: Keeping the Basin Rivers Alive

Vladimir Smakhtin and Luna Bharati

11. Ecosystem Services and Conservation Assessment of Freshwater Biodiversity

Asghar Nawab, Ravindra Kumar Sinha, Paul M. Thompson and Subodh Sharma

12. Arsenic in the Eastern Ganges Basin: Extent and Impact on Food Chain and Human Health

Rajmohan Natarajan, Dipankar Chakraborti and Sanmugam Prathapar

13. Ganges Water Quality: Dirty Past, Promising Future

Javier Mateo-Sagasta and Vinod Tare

Part 3: Governance and Livelihoods

14. Institutions and Policies Governing Water Resources Management

M. Dinesh Kumar, Dwarika N. Dhungel, M. Monirul Qader Mirza and Diana Suhardiman

15. Poverty, Inequalities and Vulnerability of the Rural Poor

Upali A. Amarasinghe, Fraser Sugden and Floriane Clement

16. Gender, Agricultural Investment and Productivity in an Era of Out-migration

Fraser Sugden, Panchali Saikia, Niki Maskey-Amatya and Paras Pokhrel

17. Can there be Progress on Transboundary Water Cooperation in the Ganges?

Mark Giordano, Dipak Gyawali, Ainun Nishat and Uttam Kumar Sinha

18. Basin Water Challenges: An Agenda for Accelerated Reform

Tushaar Shah, Prachanda Pradhan and Golam Rasul

About the Editors

Luna Bharati is a Senior Researcher and the Head of the Nepal Program at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

Bharat R. Sharma is Scientist Emeritus (Water Resources) at IWMI, based in New Delhi, India.

Vladimir Smakhtin was Head of the Water Availability, Risk and Resilience Research Department at IWMI, Colombo, Sri Lanka. He is now the Director of the Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

About the Series

Earthscan Series on Major River Basins of the World

Large river basins are dynamic and complex entities. Defined by hydrological boundaries, they are nearly always shared by more than one country. Encompassing a diverse range of landscapes with often huge temporal and spatial variability of resources, they are put to different and often conflicting uses, and managed by a range of institutions and organisations. While an intrinsic part of Nature, many have been extensively engineered and used by people, often with adverse consequences. Each major river basin has its own development trajectory and often fascinating history. Bringing together multidisciplinary teams of experts, this series explores these complex issues, identifies knowledge gaps and examines potential development pathways towards greater sustainability.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
NATURE / Ecosystems & Habitats / Rivers