Development is said to be sustainable in respect of drought if the effect has been absorbed by the existing system. Occurrence of drought depends on physiographical, climatic factors and optimum utilization of available resources of the river basin. This study aims to evaluate the vulnerability and resilience of river basin systems for the identification of priority areas under drought susceptibility for three different river basins, namely Arpa, Kharun and Upper Seonath of Mahanadi river in central India, as a pilot area for this study. The study represents an approach to evaluate the drought susceptibility of river basins based on physiographical factors and anthropogenic activities. A model proposed for vulnerability assessment based on variables of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity, and a geospatial database of basin characteristics contributing to vulnerability, was generated using remote sensing and a geographic information system. Multi-criteria decision analysis was done to evaluate the influence of river basin characteristics, population load and land-use/cover on drought susceptibility for assessing the drought vulnerability of the river basin and suggest the solution for the optimum utilization of natural resources according to the river basin characteristics. The result of this study demarcates the area in four categories of Extremely vulnerable, Moderately vulnerable, Vulnerable and Not vulnerable. On the analysis, only 3.86% of Upper Seonath is Not vulnerable, followed by Kharun basin having 15.59% as Not vulnerable area and 48.23% of the area of Arpa river basin identified as Not vulnerable. Arpa river basin is least affected by drought due to its lower population density and high coverage of forest and agriculture area.