Open access e-Journal

Earth Science India, eISSN: 0974 – 8350
Vol. 5(II), April, 2012, pp. 51-59

Study of Barak River Meander and Associated Hazard around Silchar Town, Assam, using Remote Sensing and GIS
Pulak Das Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Assam University, Silchar-788011, Assam, India

Present paper deals with the study of a meander in River Barak around Silchar town in Assam using remote sensing and GIS, encompassing a period of thirty-four years between 1976 and 2010. Changes in planform characteristics of River Barak are analysed with the help of six remote sensing images of the years 1976, 1979, 1988, 1999, 2003, and 2010. The sinuosity of the meander is observed to be quite high (>2.3) exhibiting a decreasing trend in thirty-four years. The meander ratio ranging from 1.05 to 1.12 also exhibited a decreasing trend. The decreasing trends of sinuosity and meander ratio undermine the probability of cutoff across the meander in near future. To analyse the meander shift, three Ground Control Points (GCPs) were selected. It is observed that the western arm of the meander bend around Silchar town has shifted about 132.45 m towards northwest while the eastern arm of the bend has shifted about 61.59 m towards east and 9.88 m towards northwest at two locations respectively from 1976 to 2010. Over all the meander is observed to be shifting towards north-west direction towards downstream and can be categorised as down-valley meander migration. Cases of river bank erosion are observed at two locations without any bank protection leading to destruction of property and displacement of families. A third location is comparatively stable with river bank protection by boulders. The study of past meandering characteristics may indicate towards the conditions which were prevalent and will be helpful in predicting the future channel pattern and associated hazard of river bank erosion around Silchar town. Key Words: Barak River; Meander shift; River bank erosion; Silchar

Introduction Alluvial rivers, depending upon their planform characteristics, can be classified into straight, meandering, braided, and anastomosing. Leopold and Wolman (1957) classified rivers into straight, meandering (SI> 1.5), and braided based on its sinuosity, where as Schumm (1963) recommended five classifications. These planform characteristics are determined primarily by slope, confinement, sediment supply, channel and valley materials, and riparian vegetation (Knighton, 1998). It is very rare to find straight alluvial channels, because most streams tend to meander unless they are confined in a narrow valley or gully. A curve along the channel introduces an additional form of energy dissipation not present in a comparable straight reach, an energy loss due to change of flow direction (Leopold et al., 1960). Meandering nature are common in alluvial river mainly of low gradient. On flat ground a river tends to form a relatively broad channel that slowly wanders back and forth. Meandering streams are more dynamic, and their tendency to shift location across the valley bottom increases with sinuosity (ratio of stream length to valley length), bed load, and slope. The sinuosity is the degree to which a river departs from a straight line (Schumm and Khan,