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File:Madan Mohan temple, on the Yamuna, Vrindavan, 1789.jpg
Madan Mohan temple, on the Yamuna at Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, 1789: the river has shifted further away since then.
Other name(s) Jumna
Country India
State Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi
Cities Yamuna Nagar, Delhi, Faridabad, Mathura, Agra, Etawah, Prayagraj (Allahabad)
Basin features
Main source Yamunotri
Banderpooch peaks, Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand, India
3,293 m (10,804 ft)
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River mouth Triveni sangam
Prayagraj (Allahabad), India
74 m (243 ft)
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Basin size 366,223 km2 (141,399 sq mi)
Physical characteristics
Length 1,376 km (855 mi)
  • Average rate:
    2,950 m3/s (104,000 cu ft/s)

The Yamuna (Hindustani: pronounced [jəmʊnaː]), also known as the Jumna or Jamna (not to be mistaken with the Jamuna of Bangladesh), is the second largest tributary river of the Ganges (Ganga) and the longest tributary in India. Originating from the Yamunotri Glacier at a height of 6,387 metres (20,955 ft) on the southwestern slopes of Banderpooch peaks of the Lower Himalaya in Uttarakhand, it travels a total length of 1,376 kilometres (855 mi) and has a drainage system of 366,223 square kilometres (141,399 sq mi), 40.2% of the entire Ganges Basin. It merges with the Ganges at Triveni Sangam, Prayagraj (Prayagraj), which is a site of the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu festival held every 12 years.

It crosses several states: Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, passing by Uttarakhand and later Delhi, and meeting its tributaries on the way, including Tons, its largest tributary, Chambal, its longest tributary which has its own large basin, followed by Sindh, the Betwa, and Ken. From Uttarakhand, the river flows into the state of Himachal Pradesh. After passing Paonta Sahib, Yamuna flows along the boundary of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and after exiting Haryana it continues to flow till it merges with the river Ganga (Ganges) at Sangam or Prayag in Allahbad (Uttar Pradesh). It helps create the highly fertile alluvial Yamuna-Ganges Doab region between itself and the Ganges in the Indo-Gangetic plain. Nearly 57 million people depend on the Yamuna's waters. With an annual flow of about 10,000 cubic billion metres (cbm; 8.1 billion acre⋅ft) and usage of 4,400 cbm (of which irrigation constitutes 96 per cent), the river accounts for more than 70 per cent of Delhi's water supply. Like the Ganges, the Yamuna is highly venerated in Hinduism and worshipped as the goddess Yamuna. In Hindu mythology she is the daughter of the Sun Deva, Surya, and the sister of Yama, the Deva of Death, hence also known as Yami. According to popular legends, bathing in its sacred waters frees one from the torments of death.[2][3]

At the Hathni Kund Barrage, its waters are diverted into two large canals: the Western Yamuna Canal flowing towards Haryana and the Eastern Yamuna Canal towards Uttar Pradesh. Beyond that point the Yamuna is joined only by the Somb, a seasonal rivulet from Haryana, and by the highly polluted Hindon River near Noida, so that it continues only as a trickling sewage-bearing drain before joining the Chambal at Pachnada in the Etawah District of Uttar Pradesh.[4] The water of Yamuna is of "reasonably good quality" through its length from Yamunotri in the Himalayas to Wazirabad barrage in Delhi, about 375 kilometres (233 mi); below this, the discharge of wastewater through 15 drains between Wazirabad barrage and Okhla barrage renders the river severely polluted.

One official described the river as a "sewage drain" with biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) values ranging from 14 to 28 mg/l and high coliform content.[5] There are three main sources of pollution in the river: household and municipal disposal sites, soil erosion resulting from deforestation occurring to make way for agriculture, and resulting chemical wash-off from fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides and run-off from commercial activity and industrial sites. The Yamuna from its origin at Yamunotri to Okhla barrage is called the Upper Yamuna.[6]


File:Himalayas at dusk from Mussoorie, Uttarakhand.jpg
Banderpoonch peak, the source of Yamuna, as seen from Mussoorie
File:Yamunotri temple and ashram.jpg
The Yamunotri temple on the river, dedicated to Goddess Yamuna


The present Sarsuti river which originates in the Shivalik hills in Himachal and Haryana border and merges with Ghaggar River near Pehowa is the palaeochannel of Yamuna.[7] Yamuna changed its course to the east due to a shift in the slope of the earth's crust caused by plate tectonics.[7]


The source of Yamuna lies in the Yamunotri Glacier at an elevation of 6,387 metres (20,955 ft), on the south-western slopes of Banderpooch peaks, which lie in the Mussoorie range of the Lower Himalayas, north of Haridwar in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand.[2] Yamunotri temple, a shrine dedicated to the goddess Yamuna, is one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism, and part of the Chota Char Dham Yatra circuit. Also standing close to the temple, on its 13-kilometre (8 mi) trek route that follows the right bank of the river, lies Markendeya Tirtha, where the sage Markandeya wrote the Markandeya Purana.[8][9]

Current course[edit]

The river flows southwards for about 200 kilometres (120 mi), through the Lower Himalayas and the Shivalik Hills Range. Morainic deposits are found along the steep Upper Yamuna, highlighted with geomorphic features such as interlocking spurs, steep rock benches, gorges and stream terraces. Large terraces formed over a long period of time can be seen in the lower course of the river, such as those near Naugoan. An important part of its early catchment area, totalling 2,320 square kilometres (900 sq mi), lies in Himachal Pradesh. The Tons, Yamana's largest tributary, drains a large portion of the upper catchment area and holds more water than the main stream. It rises from the Hari-ki-dun valley and merges after Kalsi near Dehradun. The drainage system of the river stretches between Giri-Sutlej catchment in Himachal and Yamuna-Bhilangna catchment in Garhwal, also draining the ridge of Shimla. Kalanag (6,387 metres [20,955 ft]) is the highest point of the Yamuna basin. Other tributaries in the region are the Giri, Rishi Ganga, Kunta, Hanuman Ganga and Bata, which drain the upper catchment area of the Yamuna basin.[10]

File:Chandigarh river.jpg
Yamuna river between Saharanpur and Yamunanagar

From the upper catchment area, the river descends onto the plains of Doon Valley, at Dak Pathar near Dehradun. Flowing through the Dakpathar Barrage, the water is diverted into a canal for power generation. Further downstream, the Assan River joins the Yamuna at the Asan Barrage, which hosts a bird sanctuary. After passing the Sikh pilgrimage town of Paonta Sahib, the Yamuna reaches Tajewala in Yamuna Nagar district (named after the river) of Haryana. A dam built here in 1873 is the origin of two important canals, the Western and Eastern Yamuna Canals, which irrigate the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The Western Yamuna Canal (WYC) crosses Yamuna Nagar, Karnal and Panipat before reaching the Haiderpur treatment plant, which contributes to Delhi's municipal water supply. The Yamuna receives wastewater from Yamuna Nagar and Panipat cities; beyond this it is replenished by seasonal streams and groundwater accrual. During the dry season, the Yamuna remains dry in many stretches between the Tajewala dam and Delhi, where it enters near the Palla barrage after traversing 224 kilometres (139 mi).

The Yamuna defines the state borders between Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and between Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. When the Yamuna reaches the Indo-Gangetic plain, it runs almost parallel to the Ganges, the two rivers creating the Ganges-Yamuna Doab region. Spread across 69,000 square kilometres (27,000 sq mi), one-third of the alluvial plain, the region is known for its agricultural output, particularly for the cultivation of basmati rice. The plain's agriculture supports one-third of India's population.[11]

State Catchment area (km2) % of catchment area
Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand 74,208 21.5
Himachal Pradesh 5,799 1.6
Haryana 21,265 6.5
Rajasthan 102,883 29.8
Madhya Pradesh 140,230 40.6
Delhi 1,485 0.4

Subsequently, the Yamana flows through the states of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh] before merging with the Ganges at a sacred spot known as Triveni Sangam in Prayagraj (Allahabad). Pilgrims travel by boats to platforms erected in midstream to offer prayers. During the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years, large congregations of people immerse themselves in the sacred waters of the confluence.[12] The cities of Baghpat, Delhi, Noida, Mathura, Agra, Firozabad, Etawah, Kalpi, Hamirpur, and Prayagraj lie on its banks. At Etawah, it meets it another important tributary, Chambal, followed by a host of tributaries further down, including, Sindh, the Betwa, and Ken.[3][13]

Important tributaries[edit]

File:Jamuna catchment.jpg
Catchment boundary of the Yamuna

Along its 1,376-kilometre (855 mi) length, the Yamuna has many notable tributaries:


File:Krishna carried over river yamuna.jpg
Vasudev carrying baby Lord Krishna across the Yamuna, an important legend of Bhagavata Purana.

The name Yamuna seems to be derived from the Sanskrit word "yama", meaning 'twin', and it may have been applied to the river because it runs parallel to the Ganges. The Yamuna is mentioned at many places in the Rig Veda, which was composed during the Vedic period c. 1700–1100 BCE, and also in the later Atharvaveda, and the Brahmanas including Aitareya Brahmana and Shatapatha Brahmana.[15] In the Rigveda, the story of the Yamuna describes her "excessive love" for her twin, Yama, who in turn asks her to find a suitable match for herself, which she does in Krishna.[16]

The tale is further detailed in the 16th century Sanskrit hymn, Yamunashtakam, an ode by the philosopher Vallabhacharya. Here the story of her descent to meet her beloved Krishna and to purify the world has been put into verse. The hymn also praises her for being the source of all spiritual abilities. And while the Ganges is considered an epitome of asceticism and higher knowledge and can grant Moksha or liberation, it is Yamuna, who, being a holder of infinite love and compassion, can grant freedom, even from death, the realm of her elder brother. Vallabhacharya writes that she rushes down the Kalinda Mountain, and describes her as the daughter of Kalinda, giving her the name Kalindi, the backdrop of Krishna Leela. The text also talks about her water being of the colour of Lord Krishna, which is dark (Shyam).[17][18] The river is referred to as Asita in some historical texts.[19]

It is mentioned as Iomanes (Ioames) in the surveys of Seleucus I Nicator, an officer of Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi, who visited India in 305 BCE. Greek traveller and geographer Megasthenes visited India sometime before 288 BCE (the date of Chandragupta's death) and mentioned the river in his Indica, where he described the region around it as the land of Surasena.[20] In Mahabharata, the Pandava capital of Indraprastha was situated on the banks of Yamuna, considered to be the site of modern Delhi.

Geological evidence indicates that in the distant past the Yamuna was a tributary of the Ghaggar River (identified by some as the Vedic Sarasvati River). It later changed its course eastward, becoming a tributary of the Ganges. While some have argued that this was due to a tectonic event, and may have led to the Sarasvati River drying up, the end of many Harappan civilisation settlements, and creation of the Thar desert,[21][22][23] recent geological research suggests that the diversion of the Yamuna to the Ganges may have occurred during the Pleistocene, and thus could not be connected to the decline of the Harappan civilisation in the region.[24]

Most of the great empires which ruled over a majority of India were based in the highly fertile Ganges–Yamuna basin, including the Magadha (c. 600 BCE), Maurya Empire (321–185 BCE), Shunga Empire (185–73 BCE), Kushan Empire (1st–3rd centuries CE), and Gupta Empire (280–550 CE), and many had their capitals here, in cities like Pataliputra or Mathura. These rivers were revered throughout these kingdoms that flourished on their banks; since the period of Chandragupta II (r. 375–415 CE), statues both the Ganges and Yamuna became common throughout the Gupta Empire. Further to the South, images of the Ganges and Yamuna are found amidst shrines of the Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas (753–982), and on their royal seals; prior to them, the Chola Empire also added the river into their architectural motifs. The Three River Goddess shrine, next to the Kailash rock-cut Temple at Ellora, shows the Ganges flanked by the Yamuna and Saraswati.[25]

Religious significance[edit]

The goddess of the river, also known as Yami, is the sister of Yama, the god of death, and the daughter of Surya, the Sun god, and his wife Saranyu.[26] Yamuna, referred to respectfully as Yamunaji, holds a very important position in Pushti Marga, a large sect of Hinduism based on the ShuddhAdvaita, in which Shri Krishna is the main deity, propagated by VallabhAcharya / MahaPrabhuji.

The river Yamuna is connected to the religious beliefs surrounding Krishna and various stories of the two are found in Hindu religious texts, especially the Puranas. One such story is Kaliya Daman about the subduing of Kaliya, a Nāga which had inhabited the river and terrorised the people of Braja.[27][28] Yamuna, according to the legends, is closely related to Lord Krishna and Mahabharata. Krishna was taken across the Yamuna on the night of his birth. Krishna's maternal uncle Kansa had planned to kill all his nephews, as his eighth nephew was predicted to be his Kāla. When Vasudeva, carrying Krishna in a basket, reached the river Yamuna, on the stormy night of Krishna's birth, Yamuna is said to have parted to make way for Vasudeva. Krishna and the Gopis also used to play on the banks of the Yamunaji as children.

File:Taj Mahal-11.jpg
Taj Mahal is situated on the banks of river Yamuna.


The stretch of the river from its origin at Yamunotri to Okhla barrage in Delhi is called "Upper Yamuna". A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed amongst the five basin states (Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Delhi) on 12 May 1994 for sharing of its waters. This led to the formation of Upper Yamuna River Board under India's Ministry of Water Resources, whose primary functions are: regulation of the available flows amongst the beneficiary states and monitoring the return flows; monitoring conservation and upgrading the quality of surface and groundwater; maintaining hydro-meteorological data for the basin; overviewing plans for watershed management; and monitoring and reviewing the progress of all projects up to and including Okhla barrage.[29]

Flood forecasting systems are established at Poanta Sahib, where Tons, Pawar and Giri tributaries meet. The river take 60 hours to travel from Tajewala to Delhi, thus allowing a two-day advance flood warning period.[2][30][31] The Central Water Commission started flood-forecasting services in 1958 with its first forecasting station on Yamuna at Delhi Railway Bridge.[32]


Yamuna has the following six functional barrages (eight including old replaced barrages, nine including a new proposed barrage), from north-west to south-east:[33][34][35][36][needs update]

  • Dakpathar Barrage in Uttarakhand, managed by the Uttarakhand govt.
  • Hathni Kund Barrage in Haryana, 172 km (107 mi) from the source of Yamuna, built in 1999 and managed by Haryana govt.[37][38]
  • Wazirabad barrage in north Delhi, 244 km (152 mi) from Hathni Kund barrage, managed by the Delhi govt.[39]
    • "New Wazirabad barrage", proposed in 2013, to be built 8 km north of the Wazirabad barrage.
  • ITO barrage (Indraparstha barrage) in central Delhi, managed by the Haryana govt.[39]
  • Okhla barrage is 22 km from Wazirabad to south Delhi, managed by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government.[39]
  • Gokul barrage (a.k.a. Mathura barrage) is at Gokul in Uttar Pradesh, managed by the UP govt.


File:Agra canal headworks1871a.jpg
Agra Canal headworks at Okhla barrage, Delhi, 1871.

Use of the Yamuna's waters for irrigation in the Indo-Gangetic Plains is enhanced by its many canals, some dating to the 14th century Tughlaq dynasty, which built the Nahr-i-Bahisht (Paradise) parallel to the river. The Nahr-i-Bahisht was restored and extended by the Mughals in the first half of the 17th century, by engineer Ali Mardan Khan, starting from Benawas where the river enters the plains and terminating near the Mughal capital of Shahjahanabad, the present city of Delhi.[40]

Eastern Yamuna Canal[edit]

As the Yamuna enters the Northern Plains near Dakpathar at an elevation of 790 metres (2,590 ft), the Eastern Yamuna Canal commences at the Dakpathar Barrage and pauses at the Asan and Hathnikund Barrages before continuing south.[37][38]

Western Yamuna Canal[edit]

The Western Yamuna Canal (WYC) was built in 1335 CE by Firuz Shah Tughlaq. Excessive silting caused it to stop flowing c. 1750, when the British Raj undertook a three-year renovation in 1817 by Bengal Engineer Group. The Tajewala Barrage dam was built in 1832–33[timeframe?] to regulate the flow of water, and was replaced by the modern Hathni Kund Barrage in 1999.[41]

The main canal is 86 kilometres (53 mi) long.[41] When including its branches and many major and minor irrigation channels, it has a total length of 325 km (202 mi)[42] The WYC begins at the Hathni Kund Barrage about 38 kilometres (24 mi) from Dakpathar and south of Doon Valley. The canals irrigate vast tracts of land in the region in Ambala, Karnal, Sonepat, Rohtak, Jind, Hisar and Bhiwani districts.[41]

The major branch canals are:

The Sutlej–Yamuna Link[edit]

A proposed heavy freight canal, the Sutlej–Yamuna Link (SYL), is being built westwards from near the Yamuna's headwaters through the Punjab region near an ancient caravan route and highlands pass to the navigable parts of the SutlejIndus watershed. This will connect the Ganges, which flows to the east coast of the subcontinent, with points west (via Pakistan). When completed, the SYL will allow shipping from India's east coast to the west coast and the Arabian sea, shortening important commercial links for north-central India's large population. The canal starts near Delhi, and is designed to transfer Haryana's share of 4.3 km3 (3,500,000 acre·ft) from the Indus Basin.


Yamuna is one of the National Waterways of India, designated as NW110 in Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Some of its sections are being developed for navigation:[47][48]


File:Yamuna river near the Himalayas.jpg
The Yamuna near the Himalayas, just as it reaches the plains, beyond Dehradun in Uttarakhand

In 1909, the waters of the Yamuna were distinguishable as clear blue, when compared to the silt-laden yellow of the Ganges.[49] However, due to high-density population growth and rapid industrialisation, Yamuna has become one of the most polluted rivers in the world.[50] The Yamuna is particularly polluted downstream of New Delhi, the capital of India, which dumps about 58% of its waste into the river. A recent[when?] study shows that there is 100% urban metabolism of River Yamuna as it passes through the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi.[51] The most pollution comes from Wazirabad, from where Yamuna enters Delhi [52] Yamuna is also one of the most polluted rivers in India.[53][year needed]


New Delhi generates 1,900 million litres (500,000,000 US gal) per day (MLD) of sewage. Though million[clarification needed] to clean up the river, the Yamuna continues to be polluted with garbage while most sewage treatment facilities are underfunded or malfunctioning. In addition, the water in the river remains stagnant for almost nine months a year, aggravating the situation. Delhi alone contributes around 3,296 MLD of sewage to the river. The government of India over the next five years[when?] has prepared plans to rebuild and repair the sewage system and the drains that empty into the river..

To address river pollution, measures have been taken by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in 12 towns of Haryana, 8 towns of Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi, under the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) which has been implemented since 1993 by the MoEF's National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD). The Japan Bank for International Cooperation is participating in the YAP in 15 of the towns (excluding 6 towns of Haryana included later on the direction of the Supreme Court of India) with soft loan assistance of 17.773 billion Japanese yen (equivalent to about 700 crore [7 billion rupees]) while the government of India is providing the funds for the remaining 6 towns. In 2007, the Indian government's plans to repair sewage lines were predicted to improve the water quality of the river 90% by the year 2010.[54][55][56][needs update]

The last barrage across the Yamuna river is the Mathura barrage at Gokul for supply of drinking water to that city. Downstream of this barrage, many pumping stations are constructed to feed the river water for irrigation needs.[57] These pumping stations are near Pateora Danda Lua error: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found., Samgara Lua error: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found., Ainjhi Lua error: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found., Bilas Khadar Lua error: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found., and Samari Lua error: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.. Depletion of the base flows available in the river during the non-monsoon months by these pump houses is exacerbating river pollution from Mathura to Prayagraj in the absence of adequate fresh water to dilute the polluted drainage from habitations and industries.

In 2009, the Union government announced to the Lok Sabha (Indian Parliament), the failure of the Ganga Action Plan and the YAP, saying that "rivers Ganga and Yamuna are no cleaner now than two decades ago" despite spending over 1,700 crore (17 billion rupees) to control pollution. According to a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) official, these plans adopted the Thames model, based on a centralised sewage treatment system. This meant that a huge sum of money and a 24-hour power supply were needed to manage the treatment plants, while only an 8-hour power supply was available, contributing to the failure.[58]

In August 2009, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) initiated its plan for resuscitating the Yamuna's 22-kilometre (14 mi) stretch in Delhi by constructing interceptor sewers, at the cost of about 1,800 crore (18 billion rupees).[59]

Conservation zone[edit]

On 25 April 2014, the National Green Tribunal Act (NGA) recommended the government to declare a 52-kilometre (32 mi) stretch of the Yamuna in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh as a conservation zone. A report prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) panel was submitted to the NGA on the same day.[60] Under the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP-I and YAP-II), pollution cleanup of Yamuna was conducted in line with the biological oxygen demand of Yamuna. Under these two phases, 286 schemes, including 39 sewage treatment plants, were completed in 21 towns of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana at a cost of 1,453.17 crore (14.5 billion rupees). Sewage treatment capacity of 767.25 million litres per day was created by these efforts.

The High Court in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand ordered in March 2017 that the Ganges and its main tributary, the Yamuna, be assigned the status of legal entities. The rivers would gain “all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.” This decision meant that polluting or damaging the rivers is equivalent to harming a person. The court cited the example of the New Zealand Whanganui River, which was also declared to possess full rights of a legal person.

This development of environmental personhood has been met with scepticism as merely announcing that the Ganges and Yamuna are living entities will not save them from significant, ongoing pollution.[61]


Quotes on Yamuna[edit]

  • "Simply by bathing in the Yamuna, anyone can diminish the reactions of his sinful activities." (Krishna Book, Chap 38)
  • "By taking bath in the Yamuna River people are liberated and become Krishna conscious." (Caitanya Caritamrita Antya 4.98 purport)
  • "There are many devotees in Vrindavana who regularly bathe in the Yamuna, and this cleanses all the contamination of the material world." (Srimad Bhagavatam 5.8.31)
  • "One should not give up the process of austerity. If possible, one should bathe in the water of the Yamuna. This is an item of austerity. Therefore, our Krishna consciousness movement has established a center in Vrindavana so that one may bathe in the Yamuna, chant the Hare Krishna mantra and then become perfect and return back to Godhead." (Srimad Bhagavatam 6.5.28 purport)
  • "The Yamuna River washed Krishna's lotus feet when the Lord appeared in Vrindavana five thousand years ago. Lord Krishna sported daily with His boys and girlfriends in the Yamuna River and consequently, that river is also caranamrita." (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.6.19)
  • "According to the Varaha Purana as quoted by Srila Jiva Gosvami, there is no difference between the water of the Ganges and the Yamuna, but when the water of the Ganges is sanctified one hundred times, it is called the Yamuna. Similarly, it is said in the scriptures that one thousand names of Vishnu are equal to one name of Rama and three names of Lord Rama are equal to one name of Krishna." (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.19.6 purport)

See also[edit]


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Jain, Sharad K.; Pushpendra K. Agarwal; Vijay P. Singh (2007). Hydrology and water resources of India—Volume 57 of Water science and technology library [archive]. Springer. pp. 344–354. ISBN 978-1-4020-5179-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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External links[edit]

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