Padma River

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This article is about the river. For other uses, see Padma (disambiguation).
Padma River
Padma River in Bangladesh
Padma River in Bangladesh
Origin Himalayas
Mouth Bay of Bengal
Basin countries India, Bangladesh
Location Nawabganj, Rajshahi, Pabna, Kushtia, Faridpur, Rajbari, and Chandpur District
Length 120 kilometres (75 mi)
Avg. discharge

Annual average:

35,000 m3/s (1,200,000 cu ft/s)

During monsoon season:

750,000 m3/s (26,000,000 cu ft/s)

During dry season:

15,000 m3/s (530,000 cu ft/s)
River system Ganges River System
A map showing the major rivers that flow into the Bay of Bengal, including Padma.

The Padma (Bengali: পদ্মা Pôdda) is the name used in Bangladesh for a major trans-boundary river known in India as the main distributary of the Ganges (Bengali: গঙ্গা Gôngga) river that originates in the western Himalayas. The most significant river in Bangladesh, it dissects the country and "can only be crossed by ferry after a lengthy wait".[1] Because of the difficulty in crossing it, the river effectively disconnects the impoverished and disaster-prone southwest from the rest of the country, including the capital, Dhaka. According to some estimates a bridge would increase its GDP growth by 1.2 percent.[1]

History[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Padma River during the rainy season

The Padma, Sanskrit for lotus flower,[2] is mentioned in Hindu mythology as a byname for the Goddess Lakshmi.[3]

The name Padma is given to the lower part of the course of the Ganga below the point of the off-take of the Bhagirathi (India). Padma had, most probably, flown through a number of channels at different times. Some authors contend that each distributary of the Ganges in its deltaic part is a remnant of an old principal channel, and that starting from the western-most one, the Bhagirathi (in West Bengal, India), each distributary to the east marks a position of a newer channel than the one to the west of it.

Geographic effects[edit]

Padma River and boats (1860)

James Rennell referred to a former course of the Ganges north of its present channel. "Appearances favour very strongly that the Ganges had its former bed in the tract now occupied by the lakes and morasses between Natore and Jafargonj, striking out of the present course by Dhaka to a junction of Brahmaputra or Meghna near Fringybazar, where accumulation of two such mighty streams probably scooped out the present amazing bed of the Meghna". The places mentioned by Rennell proceeding from west to east are Rampur Boali, the headquarters of Rajshahi district, Puthia and Natore in the same district and Jaffarganj in the district of Dhaka. The place last named were shown in a map of the Mymensingh district dated 1861, as a subdistrict (Thana) headquarters, about six miles south-east of Bera police station. It is now known as Payla Jaffarganj and is close to Elachipur opposite Goalunda. According to Rennell's theory, therefore, the probable former course of the Ganges would correspond with that of the present channel of the Baral.[citation needed]

Authorities agree that the Ganges has changed its course and that at different times, each of the distributaries might have been the carrier of its main stream.[citation needed]

The bed of the Padma is wide, and the river is split up into several channels flowing between constantly shifting sand banks and islands. During the rains the current is very strong and even steamers may find difficulty in making headway against it. It is navigable at all seasons of the year by steamers and country boats of all sizes and until recently ranked as one of the most frequented waterways in the world. It is spanned near Paksey by the great Hardinge Bridge over which runs one of the main lines of the Bangladesh Railway.[citation needed]

Hardinge Bridge Bangladesh (6)

Geography[edit]

The Padma enters Bangladesh from India near Chapai Nababganj and meets the Jamuna (Bengali: যমুনা Jomuna) near Aricha and retains its name, but finally meets with the Meghna (Bengali: মেঘনা) near Chandpur and adopts the name "Meghna" before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

Rajshahi, a major city in western Bangladesh, is situated on the north bank of the Padma. Its maximum elevation is 1,571 feet (479 m) and average elevation is 968 feet (295 m).

The Ganges originates in the Gangotri Glacier of the Himalaya, and runs through India and Bangladesh to the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges enters Bangladesh at Shibganj in the district of Chapai Nababganj.West of Shibganj, the Ganges branches into two distributaries, the Bhagirathi and the Padma Rivers. The Bhagirathi which flows southwards is also known as the Ganga and was named the Hoogly or Hooghly by the British.

Spritsailed boat on Padma River

Further downstream, in Goalando, 2,200 km away from the source, the Padma is joined by the mighty Jamuna (Lower Brahmaputra) and the resulting combination flows with the name Padma further east, to Chandpur. Here, the widest river in Bangladesh, the Meghna, joins the Padma, continuing as the Meghna almost in a straight line to the south, ending in the Bay of Bengal.

Sunset from Padma River

Pabna District[edit]

The Padma forms the whole of the southern boundary of the district for a distance of about 90 miles.

Kushtia District[edit]

The Jalangi River is thrown off at the point where the mighty Padma touches the district at its most northernly corner, and flows along the northern border in a direction slightly southeast, until it leaves the district some miles to the east of Kushtia. It carries immense volumes of water and is very wide at places, constantly shifting its main channel, eroding vast areas on one bank, throwing chars on the other, giving rise to many disputes as to the possession of the chars and islands which are thrown up.

Infrastructure[edit]

Damming[edit]

After the construction of the Farakka Barrage on the Ganges River in West Bengal, the maximum flows in the Padma River were reduced significantly.[4]

Padma Bridge[edit]

A road-rail bridge was proposed in 2009.[5]

The Padma Bridge would be Bangladesh's largest bridge, estimated at US$2.3 billion to finish. It was supposed to be open to the public in 2013. However,the future of the project became uncertain when in June 2012 World Bank cancelled its $1.2 billion loan over corruption allegations. The loan was officially revived in September 2012, but negotiations are still underway.

The Lalon Shah Bridge also crosses the Padma further upstream.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 23°15′42″N 90°35′41″E / 23.26167°N 90.59472°E / 23.26167; 90.59472