Revival of River Sarasvati in Harayana

Charting the course: The map, based on satellite data, delineates the old channels of the river which is supposed to have originated at Adi Badri, Haryana, and dried up near the Rann of Kutch (Source: Dr Baldev Sahay, former deputy director, Space Application Centre, ISRO, Ahmedabad.

Another view of the river bed. — Photo Manoj Mahajan

Space image: Sarasvati sarovar (Adbadri) and Soma Sarovar (Kapala Mochan)

Revival of River Sarasvati in Haryana

PRESS NOTE 6 Feb. 2008

Saraswati Nadi Shodh Sansthan Haryana welcomes the move of Haryana Irrigation Department in inviting tenders for Earth work and construction of pucca structures for reviving the Saraswati Nadi from Mustafabad (R. D. 36284) in Yamuna Nagar district to Murtzapur (R.D. 207000) in Kurukshetra district ----- a stretch of about 50 Kms. Obviously, this is a step in the right direction on the part of Haryana State Government to solve the water problem of the state and they deserve all praise for their initiative.

It is also learnt that the Government purpose to divert water from Dadupur Nalvi canal to Saraswati channel. This step is alright to meet the problem immediately but in order to solve the problem on permanent basis, the State Government should simultaneously undertake the following steps:-

1. The Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO-Jodhpur) has already mapped the Saraswati paleao channels flowing in Haryana. They should be contacted to identify the spots along the Saraswati channel route where digging merits to be undertaken.

2. The ONGC has already issued a press note that under their "Social welfare programme", they are undertaking supply of fresh water as a "Corporate Responsibility". They have set up an "ONGC project (Sararwati)", under which they have drilled a deep bore in Jaisalmer (Rajasthan) last year which is yielding 76000 Ltrs of fresh drinking water every hour. They have shown their willingness to undertake similar drilling in Hayrana also. They are already negotiating with Kurukshetra University for the last 2 years. The ONGC should be approached to expedite this project in Haryana.

3. The scientists from Kurukshetra University, Geological Department have established that drinking water, as pure as Ganga Jal, is available in good quantities from the paleao channels and the same is getting recharged from Himalayas. The pressure is so acute that water has burst out at the two places in Kalayat in Kaithal district. The drilling of a few deep bores and the revival of Saraswati channel would lead to augmentation of water resources in Haryana and would solve the water problem of the state on a permanent basis.

We hope the State Government would consider the suggestions seriously and proceed accordingly.


(Darshan Lal Jain)

President, Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Sansthan, Haryana

And quiet flows the Sarasvati.....

Chitleen K. Sethi (Feb. 18, 2003 Chandigarh, Tribune)

THERE are times in history when that which does not exist calls for the historians’ attention. So when historians debate about non-existent entities, the disagreement between them becomes even more complex to the lay person.

For long historians had wondered about the mighty river Sarasvati that had been mentioned in the Rig Veda and the Mahabharata. Ambitambe, Naditambe, Devitambe, Sarasvati [the best of mothers, the best of rivers, the best of goddesses, Sarasvati], this is how it was venerated. But where did it exist? One bit of contemporary mythology held that it was the river, which made a tri-junction at Tirtharaj Prayag, contemporary Allahabad with the Ganga and the Yamuna.

Another insisted that it was the river Ghaggar, which flows next door to Chandigarh. Arising from the Shiwalik ranges it wends its way through Haryana to Ganganagar in Rajasthan and then it gets lost into the desert sands.

When F. Eden Pargiter of the ICS compiled the king-lists of the Puranas (Oxford University Press, 1922) and traced the list of kings back to 120 generations before the rule of Chandragupta Maurya, he noticed that Madhyadesh, the area west of the kingdom of Ayodhya, up till the river Sarasvati in the north-west was ruled by Yayati, the great grandson of the great Pururava who had founded the Lunar dynasty, the Chandravansha. The Bhargav rishi Ushanas-Shukra, the one who supported the asuras, was said to have his ashram on the banks of the Sarasvati.

As historians of assorted hues tracked down its presence in ancient literature the riddle of the river became increasingly confounding. The river Sarasvati was said to be the mightiest of the mighty rivers. As broad as 10 km in some places, this river was the centre of civilisation and life-giver. Could the Ghaggar be this river at all? The mightiest that it did was to wash away a little mud from some spur on its banks or flood a few villages for a little while, and that too only after the heaviest of the monsoons. For most part of the year it remained a small rivulet, drying up even before summer had peaked. But as another Britisher, Oldham had discovered in the late 19th century, the Ghaggar flowed over a riverbed that was far larger than what the Ghaggar could occupy. Perhaps the larger bed was that of the Sarasvati?

With the discovery of Harappa and Mohenjodaro by archaeologists in the early 1920s, the text-based search for the Sarasvati waned considerably. The new discoveries, supported by materiel evidence that was far more tangible than mere textual descriptions, shifted the interest of historians away from the mythology of Sarasvati. The people of Haryana, though continued to believe that the Ghaggar was the Sarasvati.

Unknown to mainstream historians, though, scientists continued to take the textual references to Sarasvati seriously. A Ghosh, Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, during the years soon after independence, began the trend of exploring the Rajasthan region for this river. Investigations which also included areas of Punjab, Haryana, western UP and Gujarat, as also across the border in Pakistan seemed to suggest that a mighty river did flow through this region, draining the water from the Siwaliks into the Arabian sea. Extensive human settlements were discovered along this river.

Then since 1972 topographical, hydrological and national remote-sensing investigation done by the Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad and the Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad, brought out evidence for the existence of a mighty river in the region over which the Ghaggar flows today. Tectonic disturbances around 1800 B.C. which raised the Aravalli ranges in Rajasthan, it was said, changed the directions of the important rivers flowing down the Shiwaliks. The Yamuna turned east and went on to join the Ganga, making that river the mightiest in the subcontinent. The Sutlej began to shift westwards towards the Indus. Thus the once mighty river was swallowed up by mother earth. A small seasonal rivulet was left behind which we now know as the Ghaggar.