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Mains Test Series

Minerals, rocks, landforms and their evolution

Q. Briefly explain why the east-flowing rivers form deltas in India but not the west-flowing rivers. (150 words)


The east-flowing rivers form deltas in India, whereas the west-flowing rivers form estuaries. The major East flowing rivers are Godavari, Krishna, Mahanadi, Cauvery, etc., forming deltas. 

Deltas are formed due to continuous sediment deposition from a river into the ocean or any standing body of water.

Reasons why east-flowing rivers form deltas in India:

  1. Gentle Gradient: The Deccan peninsular block is slightly tilted from the northwest to the southeastern direction, orienting the entire drainage towards the Bay of Bengal.
  2. Sediment Loads: The east-flowing rivers form deltas because of the high accumulation of sediments, and they have to travel a considerable distance to drain into the Bay of Bengal.
  3. Tidal Influence: The Bay of Bengal, where most of the East flowing rivers discharge, experiences lower tidal energy than the Arabian Sea, which reduces tidal energy, allowing sediment to accumulate, promoting delta formation.
  4. River Braiding: As the east-flowing rivers reach plain regions closer to the Coast, several rivers tend to braid or split into multiple channels, further reducing the flow velocity and leading to sediment settling and delta formation.
  5. Large Volume of water: The east-flowing river carries a massive volume of water due to the monsoon-dominated rainfall patterns in India. Even sometimes causes floods in their lower reaches, such as river Godavari, which is subjected to heavy flooding in its lower reaches to the south of Polavaram, where it forms a picturesque gorge. The river after Rajamundri splits into several branches, creating a large delta.
  6. Coastal Dynamics: The coastline on the eastern side of India is characterised by shallow and relatively calm waters conducive to sediment settling. This provides a favourable environment for the accumulation of sediments and the formation of deltas.
  7. Large Catchment Area: East-flowing rivers are larger and longer than westflowing rivers. For example, Godavari, Mahanadi, Cauvery, etc The reason why west-flowing rivers don’t form a delta in India:
  8. Faults: The Narmada and the Tapi flow in trough faults and fill original cracks with detritus materials. Thus, these rivers carry smaller amounts of alluvial and deltaic deposits.
  9. Steep slope: The west-flowing rivers have steep slopes compared to the east-flowing rivers, which discharge as they approach Quickly Coast.
  10. Topography of Western Ghats: The western Ghats are narrow; thus, the length of the Rivers and the catchment area is relatively small.
  11. Carries less sediments: the west-flowing rivers are smaller and cover the least area. For example, penner, vaigai, etc.


The sediment load and slower flow rate lead to greater sedimentation in the eastflowing rivers in India in comparison to the west-flowing ones. This means that the western Coast is ideal for the establishment of ports, and the deltas of the eastern Coast are suitable for agriculture.

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