China’s growing influence in NE should be handled in a positive constructive manner: Gaurav Gogoi

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Guwahati, January 3: Kaliabor’s MP, Gaurav Gogoi has written to the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj regarding the issue of the negative impact of hydro projects by the neighbouring countries such as China on the river resources, aquatic life and ecology in Assam as well as other parts of the country. He claimed that the through the construction of a dam 13 km upstream of Tsangpo could be for diverting a portion of the Brahmaputra to the parched areas of Taklamakan desert.

Gaurav Gogoi in his letter stated, “The fear of water being diverted from our rivers without consent is a grave issue and demands more comprehensive attention We need a structured bilateral water treaty to safeguard our interests and access important hydrology data.”

He further added that in the past, concerns over the construction of the Three Gorges dam have already caused disruption and alarm. The recent possibility of China diverting the water of the Brahmaputra for its own projects adds to the insecurity.

He added, “The construction of a dam 13 km upstream of Tsangpo diverting the entire water inside the mountain suggests that the purpose may not just be hydropower generation. The purpose of this project could be for diverting a portion of the Brahmaputra to the parched areas of Taklamakan desert.”

He further stated that he had written to the Prime Minister about the issue and request that the Chinese Government share the details of the possible downstream impact of construction of hydro-electric projects on the Tsangpo.

He added that as per the 2010 agreement signed between former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, China is supposed to provide India with hydrological information for three stations, namely, Nugesha Yangcun and Nuxia located in Tibet. This information was supposed to be provided twice a day at 8 am and 8 pm during high flow season every year but over the past year, it was reported that China has declined to share the data on the plea that the instruments and installation in the measuring stations were destroyed.

He added, “The absence of any bilateral water treaty with neighbouring countries like China grant it space to claim a larger stake on the use of the water of the river, because of its mega projects. If this were to go to arbitration in the future, the ruling could even be in favour of China simply because India hasn’t shown much initiative in preventing expropriation of the river.”

He added, “What complicates matters is that neither India nor China is party to the Convention on the Law if the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses’1997 which states that parties have an obligation to share information on use of river waters, including hydro projects and any water diversion.”

He also added in his letter that recently Sri Lanka granted a 99-year long lease of a strategic port to China. Another announcement of the free trade agreement between Maldives and China and the sweeping victory of communist parties in Nepal’s Parliamentary polls are recurring reminders for us. Beijing has also developed underwater surveillance network in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

He appealed, “We need to engage with China’s growing influence in our own neighbourhood in a positive constructive manner.”