Delhi opens new front against Beijing

India opposes Chinese dam project on Brahmaputra

 
For the third consecutive day, the diplomatic tug-of-war between the two Asian giants continued as India said it was ascertaining whether there are recent developments that suggest any change in the position conveyed to it by the Government of China.

India was reacting to reports which said China was constructing a dam on its side of the river and said it was verifying whether such a project is being pursued despite denials. There was no reaction from Beijing over India’s statement until late evening.  The External Affairs Ministry said India has conveyed, during meetings over last three years, that such a project may have significant impact on the socio-economic condition of people living downstream.

The Brahmaputra river flows for about 1,625 km inside the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China and for a further 918 km inside India which is in the downstream.

The ministry said in the statement: “The Indian side has taken up with the Chinese side reports about the construction of a large-scale dam or diversion project in the Brahmaputra”.

Keeping in mind that the river is an economic resource for the development of the local communities in the two countries, India and China agreed in November 2006 to establish an Expert Level Mechanism to discuss trans-border river issues in an institutional way.

Three meetings have been held so far.  The statement added: “During these meetings, the Indian side has taken up with the Chinese side, reports about the construction of a large scale dam or diversion project in the Brahmaputra.

The Indian side has conveyed that such a project may have significant impact on the socio-economic condition of people living downstream.  The Indian side has also expressed the hope that the Chinese side will not undertake such a large scale project or divert the waters of the Brahmaputra”.

Denial

According to the statement, the Chinese side has categorically denied that there is a plan to build any such large scale diversion project on the Brahmaputra river.  The latest salvo from India came following a series of war of words between the two countries beginning October 13 when China questioned the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as a disputed region, on October 3. India protested and the following day asked China to cease its activities in the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.

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