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A nullah or nulla (Urdu: نلہ‎ or "nallah" in Punjabi) is an 'arm of the sea', stream, or watercourse, a steep narrow valley. Like the wadi of the Arabs, the nullah is characteristic of mountainous or hilly country where there is little rainfall.

In the drier parts of India and Pakistan, and in many parts of Australia, there are small steep-sided valleys penetrating the hills, clothed with rough brushwood or small trees growing in the stony soil. During occasional heavy rains, torrents rush down the nullahs and quickly disappear. There is little local action upon the sides, while the bed is lowered, and consequently these valleys are narrow and steep. In cities on the Delhi plain in India, nullahs are concrete or brick-lined ditches about 3 metres (10 ft) deep and 6 metres (20 ft) wide, used to divert monsoon rain away from the cities.

In East Asia, a nullah (Chinese: 明渠) refers to an open, usually concrete-lined channel designed to allow rapid drainage of storm precipitation or industrial wastewater from high ground, to prevent flooding of urbanised coastal areas.[1] It basically is a canal that is dry most of the time. One such example is the Kai Tak Nullah in Hong Kong.


  1. ^ Wordie, Jason (January 20, 2008). "FYI: Why do some Hong Kong street names seem to have no connection to the area they are in?". South China Morning Post. p. 10. Retrieved January 8, 2014.  (subscription required)
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Nullah". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
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