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I am reading 'The Wonder That Was India' by A.L.Basham. In Chapter 1, Introduction the author speaks about the vastness and benefit of the Ganges basin. He adds,

Though generations of unscientific farming, deforestation, and other factors have now much reduced its fertility, this was once among the most productive lands in the world, and it has supported a very large population ever since it was brought under the plough. At its mouth in Bengal the Ganga forms a large delta, which even in historical times has gained appreciably on the sea; here the Ganga joins the Brahmaputra, which flows from Tibet by way of valley of Assam, the eastermost outpost of Hindu culture.

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It means an increase that can be measured / perceived. See definition of 'Appreciable'.

In the passage the delta could be seen getting larger and larger.

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From the context, I would assume it means something like "has come noticeably closer to the sea". The phrasal verb "to gain on [something]" means "to come nearer to [something]", often used in the context of a race - to come nearer to an opponent.

The construction is a little odd to be fair. I find it a little strange to say that a delta is getting closer to the sea, since river deltas are generally already close to the sea, although I could evsisage them extending further into the sea over time as more sediment is depositied. It could have been written better in my opinion, although I may be just splitting hairs.

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