Friday, March 2, 2012

Brahmaputra Water : India now says diversion by China not true

India yesterday said the apprehensions expressed by the Arunachal Pradesh government about a possible diversion of the Brahmaputra River by China "is not correct and devoid of facts". 

The concern on drastic fall in water level of the river, locally known as Siang, "may be based on the visual impression gathered from general public perception of the river flows around Pasighat town", a central government statement said. 

The Central Water Commission found no “abnormal changes” in the water level of the river Siang. This is lean season when water levels of rivers naturally drop.

Tako Dabi, a spokesman of Arunachal government, told the media on Wednesday night about “the fall” in water level of the Siang due to either diversion of water in its upper reaches in Tibet, China or any blockade there.

He claimed such a fall in Siang water level has not been seen in the last 50 years.

India also said China assured it of not doing anything that could hurt the interests of lower riparian countries. 

“On the question of diversion of water, let me say that India and China have had many exchanges on this subject, even at the highest levels, between the prime ministers of the two countries. 

“Our own look into this whole question has also led us to believe that what the Chinese are telling us is correct”, said Joint Secretary (East Asia) Gautam Bambawale. 

The Brahmaputra has its source in China's southwestern Tibet region where it is known as the Yarlung Tsangpo, and it enters India in the mountainous, remote northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.

The 2,900-kilometre river then descends into the plains of adjoining Assam state and ends in Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal, along the way supplying water to hundreds of millions of farmers and residents.

Yesterday, China denied that a dam it was building on a major river in Tibet was impacting the lower reaches of the waterway in India, reports AFP.

"Our projects have not affected the lower stream regions, including those in India," China's foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters when asked of his nation's water usage on the river.

"Overall, the utilisation of the river by the Chinese side is very low." 

China pays attention to the impact on the lower stream regions when developing its water resources, Hong said, adding that Chinese officials have briefed India on its development of the Yarlung Tsangpo.

"To satisfy the needs of the Tibet Autonomous Region, China has begun to build the hydroelectric power station of Zangmu in the middle part of Yarlung Tsangpo river," Hong said.

"It does not have a big capacity and does not retain an excessive amount of water. It will not affect the downstream water regulation and environment."