In the backdrop of construction of three more dams on the Brahamputra by the Chinese which had raised concerns in New Delhi, China on Wednesday turned down India’s proposal for a new mechanism to deal with issues of water.
India is pressing China to have either a water commission or a inter-Governmental dialogue or a treaty to deal with water issues between the two countries in the wake of Chinese approval for construction of three more dams on the Brahmaputra river in Tibet, in addition to the one being built without informing New Delhi.
The main rivers originating from China entering India are the Brahmaputra in the North East and Indus and Sutlej in the Northern Part of the country and under the current Expert Level Mechanism (ELM), the two countries only share hydrological information (water level, discharge and rainfall) on Yaluzangbu/ Brahmaputra river in flood season by China to India.
However, it is learnt that China has conveyed that the existing mechanism on water issues, especially on the Brahamputra, was “adequate” in response to the proposal by India which has decided to “continue to press” for having such a mechanism.
The issue was also raised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his first bilateral meeting with newly-elected Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Durban in March.
Singh was understood to have conveyed to Xi concerns in India over the Chinese proposal to construct three more dams across the Brahmaputra. India has said the proposal would affect water flow to India while China says it was just run-off-the-river project that would not hold water.
China is currently building dams at Dagu, Jiacha and Jiexu in addition to a 510 MW water project at Zangmu.
A high-level inter-ministerial committee, comprising officials from External Affairs Ministry, Defence Ministry, Department of Space among others regularly take stock of the situation and after their meeting in February had recommended that the matter be taken up with China again.
India has a Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan under which the two countries share information and cooperate on the matter while a Ganges Treaty with Bangladesh establishes a 30-year water-sharing arrangement and recognises the neighbouring country’s rights as a lower-level riparian.
(With inputs from agencies)