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Cauvery River Basin: An Overview

Summary

Cauvery is an easterly flowing river of the Peninsular India that runs across three of the southern Indian states i.e. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and a Union Territory of Puducherry. The fourth largest river of southern region, begins its 800 km long journey from the Western Ghats; traverses through Mysore plateau and finally forms a delta on the eastern coastline of the subcontinent before falling into the Bay of Bengal. The point of origin of Cauvery, Talakaveri is in the Brahmagiri ranges of the Western Ghats at an elevation of 1341m. Geologically, the basin forms a part of the South Indian Shield. The shield areas of the world are considered to have preserved early-formed crust (prior to 2500 Ma). The rocks in the entire basin are predominantly metamorphic and igneous; however sedimentary rocks are exposed along the eastern margin.The eastern deltaic area is the most fertile areas in the basin and the soil type is alluvial in this region. The principal soil types found in the basin are red soils, black soils, laterite, alluvial soils, forest soils and mixed soils. Red soils occupy large areas in the basin. The basin is characterized with a unique forest with some of very distinct fauna and flora and is home to many sanctuaries and National Parks. Average density in the population is around 192 persons per sq km. which is far less than the national average, but demographic changes expected in near future and also in recent years may lead to higher population density in the catchment, especially in some of the urban centers. Historically important urban centers were Mysore, Thanjavur and Madurai whereas Bangalore, Mysore and Tiruchirapalli are the major urban centers of today. An average annual surface water potential of 21.4 km3 has been assessed in this basin. Out of this, 19.0 km3 is utilizable water. Cultivable area in the basin is about 5.8 Million ha, which is 3.0% of the total cultivable area of the country. Present use of surface water in the basin is 18.0 km3. The hydropower potential of the basin has been assessed as 1359 MW at 60% load factor.

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