India may nudge China for talks on water sharing

Beijing and New Delhi currently have two memorandums of understanding to share hydrological data of the Brahmaputra and Sutlej as well as an expert-level mechanism for talks on issues related with the trans-border rivers.

However, India is keen to start talks for a water-sharing arrangement with China.
The Chinese premier is arriving in New Delhi on Wednesday. India is likely to take up the issue with China when Wen and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet here on Thursday.

Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is among the Union ministers, who will assist the prime minister in the talks.

Sources said while the existing mechanisms of sharing hydrological data “are working well,” New Delhi wants to have a water sharing treaty with Beijing, particularly to “protect India’s right as a lower riparian state” on waters of the rivers originating in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Beijing of late conveyed to New Delhi that it was just building a 510 MW run-of-the-river hydro-electric project in the middle reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo—as the Brahmaputra is known in Tibet—at Zangmu in Gyaca Country of the TAR’s Lhoka Prefecture and had no plan to divert its water or build storage facility on it.

The Yarlung Tsangpo, a 1,700 kilometre-long river, originates at the Jima Yangzong glacier near Mount Kailash in southwestern Tibet and flows into Arunachal Pradesh, where it is known as Siang and Dihang, and then into Assam as the Brahmaputra. It later flows into Bangladesh.

Social organisations in the northeastern region have since long been expressing concerns over Chinese projects on the Brahmaputra and their downstream impact, particularly on the environment and livelihood of people in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi recently requested the prime minister to explore possibilities of inking a water-sharing agreement with China.

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