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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Brahmaputra dams: Govt was alerted, didn't move

October 18, 2009

Indian Express
October 17, 2009

NEW DELHI -- With new evidence emerging to
suggest that China has begun constructing a dam
on its side of the Brahmaputra -- as first
reported by The Indian Express — the National
Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) and National
Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) are taking
a hard look at the Chinese plans before the
matter can formally be taken up with Beijing.

Official sources said that the NTRO, using NRSA
data, had alerted the Government in May 2008
about nine suspected locations along the river on the Chinese side.

The NTRO had informed the Committee of
Secretaries about increased infrastructure
activity near the Great Bend where the
Brahmaputra takes a steep turn to enter India.
Citing “open sources”, NTRO had even indicated
2009 could see "commencement" of construction
work in the Great Western River Diversion Project.

Reports on Chinese plans to divert Brahmaputra
water have been taken note of ever since 2003. In
2005, Li Ling’s book ‘How Tibet’s water will save
China’ detailed plans to divert about 200 BCM of
water from Tibet, including 120 BCM from the
Brahmaputra basin on the Chinese side.

The CoS has been monitoring this aspect since
2006. Sources said that the CoS met several times
-- in October 2006, September 2008, October 2008
and February 2009 — to discuss reports of Chinese
plans to build a dam on the Brahmaputra. At one
stage, the CoS was informed that the Great
Western River Diversion Project had "moved from
discussion to planning stage”, sources said.

Despite a CoS recommendation, the Government did
not constitute a Group of Ministers.The CoS
recommended a GoM to fast-track storage projects
in Arunachal Pradesh to take care of any “adverse
construction” on the Chinese side. But only a
high-level group of senior officials and experts
was formed to expedite projects in Arunachal Pradesh.

A PTI report from Guwahati quoted Assam Chief
Minister Tarun Gogoi as saying that his
government was "seriously concerned" over the
construction of a dam by the Chinese as “we
apprehend it will affect Assam and dry up
Brahmaputra and other water resources
downstream." Gogoi said he would meet the Prime
Minister and Union Water Resources Minister and
ask them to take up the issue with Beijing.

In New Delhi, BJP president Rajnath Singh was
said to have raised the dam-construction matter
in a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yan.
According to a release issued by his office,
Singh also said that “China’s repeated claims on
Arunachal Pradesh amounted to repeated
interference in India’s internal affairs”. He
said the “BJP was solidly behind the Union
Government in its diplomatic efforts to resolve
bilateral issues with its northern neighbour”.
Zhang Yan was quoted as having said that China
wanted to have cordial relations with India but
"there were some historical issues to be resolved."
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