Sunday, 8 November 2009

WHEN WATER IGNITES FIRE (Sino-Indian relationship)

Sino-Indian relationship again hit the headlines; With the Indian Remote sensing agency (IRSA), a government of India body, reporting the construction of dam on the Chinese side of the river Brahmaputra. In its report to the cabinet secretary, the agency said that the construction activities are going on the river Brahmaputra called Tsangpo in China. Just after the report came, Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said in a press conference that China has denied any such activity. She said that the issue was raised on the sidelines of the ASEAN meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. The issue was also discussed during the foreign secretary level talk in Bengaluru last month. China openly said that it is a responsible country and it has no intention to stop the flow of the river Brahmaputra.

India is concerned about the construction of dam on the river Brahmaputra as it receives 30% of its total water resources from this river. If the flow of the river is stopped once, a large portion of arable land will come under the threat of draught. Apart from irrigation, this river plays a significant contribution in the electricity production of the country. According to a senior officer in the ministry of water resources, the proposed hydel power projects will produce around 99,256 MW electricity.

When I talk to a senior journalist Mr. sayeed Naqvi on this issue, he said that it’s an issue more hyped by the media. The ground reality is not as the media is trying to portray. He said that we should listen to what is the official version of the two countries.

A daily had earlier expressed the fear that China is trying to control the flow of the river Brahmaputra by constructing a dam over the river Brahmaputra.
Now, the question is, should we ignore the report of IRSA,just because China says otherwise. Replying to this question, Minister for water resources, Mr. Pawan Kumar Bansal said that there is no bilateral water treaty between India and China. So india can’t oppose if China carries out any construction activity on its side of the river. We can express concern only if it tries to divert the 7.9 billion cubic meter water that flows into India.

When it was asked to Professor Qamar Agha that how appropriate is this official stand, he said that India has changed and there is no chance of both the countries going for aggressive posturing. The need is to avoid sensationalisation of the issue. He also said that such reports come due to the foreign powers who do not want the relations between the two countries to normalize.

China is developing fast. Be it Tibbet, Taiwan, Aksai Chin or Arunanchal, China has firmly crushed all the barriers that came in between development. Despite, India’s foreign ministry saying that Sino-Indian relations are normal; India can’t accept assurances of a bloody 1962 war. Anyway, there have been predictions that if there will be a third world war, it will be for water.

Sanjeev Srivastava

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