The tributaries of rivers Ganga and Brahmaputra together form the Ganga Brahmaputra basin in the Indian subcontinent. The basin lies in the sub-tropical region that is situated between 10°N to 30°N latitudes. The tributaries of the River Ganga like the Ghaghra, the Son, the Chambal, the Gandak, the Kosi, and Brahmaputra drain it.
The main features of the Ganga Brahmaputra basin are the plains of the Ganga and the mountains and the foothills of the Himalayas and the Sundarbans delta. Ox-bow lakes dot the plain area. The area is dominated by a monsoon climate. The monsoon brings rains from mid-June to mid-September. The summers are hot and the winters cool. The basin area has a varied topography.
The Environment plays a dominant role in the distribution of the population. The mountain areas with steep slopes have inhospitable terrain. Therefore less number of people live in the mountain area of the Ganga-Brahmaputra basin. The plain area provides the most suitable land for human habitation. The density of population of the plains is very high
The soil is fertile. Agriculture is the main occupation of the people where flat land is available to grow crops. The main crop is paddy. Since the cultivation of paddy requires sufficient water, it is grown in areas where the amount of rainfall is high. Wheat, maize, sorghum, gram, and millets are the other crops that are grown.
Cash crops like sugarcane and jute are also grown. Banana plantations are seen in some areas of the plain. In West Bengal and Assam tea is grown in plantations. Silk is produced through the cultivation of silkworms in parts of Bihar and Assam. In the mountains and hills, where the slopes are gentle, crops are grown on terraces. The vegetation cover of the area varies according to the type of landforms. In the Ganga and Brahmaputra plain, tropical deciduous trees grow with teak, sal, and peepal.
Thick bamboo groves are common in the Brahmaputra plain. The delta area is covered with mangrove forests. In parts of Uttaranchal, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh, coniferous trees like pine, deodar, and fir can be seen because the climate is cool and the slopes are steep. There is a variety of wildlife in the basin.
Elephants, tigers, deer, and monkeys are common. The one-horned rhinoceros is found in the Brahmaputra plain. In the delta area, Bengal tigers, crocodiles, and alligators are found. Aquatic life abounds in the fresh river waters, the lakes, and the Bay of Bengal Sea.
The most popular varieties of fish are rohu, catla, and hilsa. Fish and rice is the staple diet of the people living in the area. The Ganga-Brahmaputra plain has several big towns and cities. The cities of Allahabad, Kanpur, Varanasi, Lucknow, Patna, and Kolkata all with a population of more than ten lakhs are located along the River Ganga.
The wastewater from these towns and industries is discharged into the rivers. This leads to the pollution of the rivers. All four ways of transport are well developed in the Ganga-Brahmaputra basin. In the plain areas, the roadways and railways transport the people from one place to another. The waterways are an effective means of transport, particularly along the rivers. Kolkata is an important port on the River Hooghly.
The plain area also has a large number of airports. Tourism is another important activity of the basin. Taj Mahal on the banks of Yamuna in Agra, Allahabad on the confluence of the Rivers Ganga and Yamuna, Buddhists stupas in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Lucknow with its Imambara, Assam with Kaziranga andManas with wildlife sanctuaries, and Arunachal Pradesh with a distinct tribal culture are some of the places worth a visit.