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Mayurakshi River

Mayurakshi River
Mor River
Mayurakshi River.jpg
StateJharkhand, West Bengal
CitiesDumka, Suri, Sainthia
Physical characteristics
SourceTrikut Hill
 ⁃ locationDeoghar, Jharkhand
 ⁃ coordinates24°29′00″N 86°42′0″E / 24.48333°N 86.70000°E / 24.48333; 86.70000
Length250 km (160 mi)
 ⁃ locationHooghly River
Basin features
 ⁃ rightKopai, Brahmani,
Dwaraka, Bakreshwar
Mayurakshi near Dumka

Mayurakshi River (also called Mor River) is a major river in Jharkhand and West Bengal, India, with a long history of devastating floods.

It has its source on Trikut hill, about 16 kilometres (10 mi) from Deoghar in Jharkhand state.[1] It flows through Jharkhand and then through the districts of Birbhum and Murshidabad in West Bengal before flowing into the Hooghly River. The river is about 250 kilometres (160 mi) long.[2]

Mayurakshi literally means "peacock eyes" (mayur/mor=peacock, akshi=eye). The comparison is with the beautiful feathers on a peacock's tail. Mayurakshi though named after its crystal clear water of the dry seasons, floods its valley during the monsoons. Even after the construction of the Massanjore dam, it wreaks havoc with its floods, washing away embankments.

Floods and their control

The Mayurakshi is famous for its strong current. For seven or eight months in the year the river is a desert – sands stretching from shore to shore for about 1.5 miles (2.4 km). But when the rains come, the river is terrible, demoniac, racing along 4 to 5 miles (6 to 8 km) wide, its deep grey water swamping everything within reach. Then comes once in a while the Harpa flood, when the water, six to seven cubits deep, rushes into villages nearby and washes away homes and granaries and all else in its way. This does not happen very often though. The last time was about twenty years ago.[3]

Tarashankar Bandopadhyay

Many of the rivers that originate on the Chota Nagpur Plateau and flow down into West Bengal are rain fed and have for ages wrought havoc with their seasonal floods. This includes the Mayurakshi. Annual rainfall over the basin varies between 765 and 1,607 millimetres (30 and 63 in) with an average of 1,200 millimetres (47 in) of which 80 percent occurs during the monsoon season from June to September.[4]

Some of the historically important floods in this river were recorded by L.S.S. O'Malley in the Bengal District Gazetteers for the districts of Murshidabad and Birbhum. For the district of Birbhum, O'Malley has noted "in 1787 there was a high flood which it is said, in some places swept off villages, inhabitants and cattle, the crops on the ground, with everything that was moveable." O'Malley also recorded that "in 1806 the Mayurakshi and Ajay had a sudden extraordinary rise and floods washed away whole villages." In September 1902, because of heavy rains the Brahmani and the Mayurakshi overflowed their banks and inundated the surrounding country in some places to the depth of 4 to 6 metres (12 to 20 ft) [5]

Massanjore Dam

From the counterpart rupee fund created through supplies of wheat and other materials from Canada for use in India, Canada devoted those rupees to the further development of the Mayurakshi dam project.[6] The Massanjore dam (also called Canada Dam), across the Mayurakshi, was commissioned in 1955. It was formally inaugurated by Lester B. Pearson, Foreign Minister of Canada.[7] Unfortunately, the Massanjore dam located near Dumka in the state of Jharkhand (erstwhile Bihar) was not allowed to have any flood reserve. Simultaneously with construction of dams the state government in 1956, selectively took over flood control embankments till then maintained by the landlords or local bodies.[5] Massanjore dam is about 38 kilometres (24 mi) upstream from Siuri in West Bengal. It is 47 metres (155 ft) high from its base and is 660 metres (2,170 ft) long. The reservoir has an area of 67.4 square kilometres (16,650 acres) when full and has a storage capacity of 620,000,000 cubic metres (500,000 acre⋅ft). It had cost Rs. 16.10 crore.[2]

Tilpara Barrage

Tilpara Barrage near Suri

Apart from the Massanjore Dam there is a barrage, some 32 kilometres (20 mi) downstream, at Tilpara, near Siuri. The barrage is 309 metres (1,013 ft) long and had cost Rs. 1.11 crore.[2]

Since 1960

In the four decades between 1960 and 2000 only five years could be identified as flood-free years, when only less than 500 square kilometres (190 sq mi) of area were inundated. After major floods in 1978, West Bengal suffered consecutively in 1998, 1999 and 2000. In 1978, seventy two hours of continuous and concentrated rainfall over the western river basin areas of the Bhagirathi viz. from the Pagla-Bansloi to the Ajay, generated so huge flood volume that all embankments on the eastern side of the Bhagirathi were almost washed away and the whole of Nadia district, a larger part of Murshidabad district and northern areas of North 24 Parganas district were flooded and remained underwater for a long time.[5][8] Construction of embankments is the only structural measure available for the provision of relief to the people. Major embankments line long stretches of such rivers as Mayurakshi, Dwarka, Brahmani and Ajay [5][9]

Irrigation and power

Massanjore dam has ensured irrigation of some 2,400 square kilometres (600,000 acres) of land with an estimated resultant increased yield of approximately 400,000 tons of food annually [10] and generation of 2,000 kW of electric power.[11] Mayurakshi Left Bank and Right Bank Canal. Length of Left Bank Canal 20.54 kilometres. Mayurakshi Right Bank Canal is yet to be constructed.


The Mayurakshi is fed by tributaries Brahmani, Dwaraka, Bakreshwar and Kopai.[12]


  1. ^ "Incredible India". Baidyanathdham (Deoghar). India Tourism. Archived from the original on 2007-01-11. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  2. ^ a b c Selim. Mohammad, Irrigation Projects in Birbhum District, published in Paschim Banga, February 2006, (in Bengali), Birbhum special issue, Govt. of West Bengal, p 168-169
  3. ^ Boatman Tarini, translated by Hilren Mukerjee, Contemporary Indian Short Stories, Series II, Sahitya Akademi.
  4. ^ The reference is actually about the Damodar basin which is adjacent to the Mayurakshi basin and has similar climatic conditions. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2008-05-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b c d Ray, Chandan. "Floods and Role of the People – Perspective of West Bengal". UNESCAP. Archived from the original on 2006-07-16. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  6. ^ Cavell, Nik. "Canada and the Colombo Plan". Empire Club address. The Empire Club of Canada. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  7. ^ "Canada Dam". This day that age. The Hindu 3 November 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  8. ^ "Flood situation improves". Bengal. The Statesman 27 September 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  9. ^ "Flood fear stalks rural Birbhum". Bengal Plus. The Statesman 14 July 2004. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  10. ^ Claxton, Brooke. "Documents on Canadian External Relations". Cabinet Document No. 40-54. Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada. Archived from the original on 2007-02-23. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  11. ^ "Birbhhum". National Informatics Centre. Archived from the original on 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  12. ^ "Rivers". West Bengal Tourism. Archived from the original on November 9, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-14.

External links

  • Tilpara satellite view – Mayurakshi river is against the blue arrow - by moving the map, almost the entire course of the river can be traced.