Advisor: Benjamin Cashore
The construction of the Farakka Barrage at the head of the delta in West Bengal is a cause of major tension between India and Bangladesh. Farakka, close to the point where the main flow of the river enters Bangladesh, and the tributary Hooghly (also known as Bhagirathi) continues in West Bengal past Calcutta. This barrage, which feeds the Hooghly branch of the river by a 26 mile long feeder canal, and its water flow management, has been a long-lingering source of dispute with Bangladesh. India claims that the port of Calcutta is adversely affected by deposits of silt and by the intrusion of saline seawater. To counter these effects fresh water is diverted into the Bhagirathi River via a large canal from the Ganges at Farakka. However, after its construction, the salinity of water and soil increased markedly. Recurring floods caused by siltation and the opening of the Farakka Barrage sluice gates during the monsoon season resulted in extensive damage to crops. Soil moisture and groundwater levels continue to decrease and the ecosystems of the region are being damaged.
I would like to use remote sensing tools to explore the extent of siltation along the Hooghly River *and* along the tributary extending into Bangladesh over the last 30 years to assess the futility and/or successes of the Farakka Dam and the changing policies since its inception.