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India, China set to revive data sharing on transboundary rivers

nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 06 March 2018, 19:50 IST
Last Updated : 06 March 2018, 19:50 IST
Last Updated : 06 March 2018, 19:50 IST
Last Updated : 06 March 2018, 19:50 IST

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With both countries keen to move out of the shadow of the face-off in Doklam, India and China are set to revive a mechanism for sharing data on trans-boundary rivers.

India and China will soon hold a meeting of the Expert Level Mechanism, which was set up in 2006 for interaction and cooperation on sharing of flood-season hydrological data, emergency management and other issues regarding trans-border rivers, like Brahmaputra and Sutlej, sources told DH.

The 10th meeting of the Mechanism was held in New Delhi in April 2016. No meeting was held in 2017 – a year that saw the troubled ties between India and China hitting a new low.

Sources said that the next meeting of the Mechanism on trans-boundary rivers would take place soon in Beijing and the officials were in touch to finalise the date.

The two neighbouring nations had bilateral arrangements for China to share with India hydrological data on cross-border rivers between May 15 and October 15 every year. China, however, did not share with India any data on Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers during the stipulated period in 2017.

Beijing's reluctance to share river data with New Delhi added yet another irritant to the strained bilateral relations, which reached its lowest ebb during the 72-day-long face-off between Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army at Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan.

The hydrological data received from China helps India to prepare for a rise in water level of the Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers during monsoon and assess the possibility of a flood or flood-like situation and its extent.

The overflowing Brahmaputra last year caused four waves of flood that wreaked havoc in Assam, killing over 160 people and displacing a large number of people in 29 districts. Over 10,000 acres of agricultural land in Punjab was also inundated by waters of Sutlej last year.

MoUs

New Delhi and Beijing first inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2002 for sharing of hydrological data on Yaluzangbu or Brahmaputra. The MoU provided for Beijing sharing with New Delhi hydrological information – water level, discharge and rainfall – recorded at three stations – Nugesha, Yangcun and Nuxia – in upper reaches of Yaluzangbu or Brahmaputra in Tibet Autonomous Region of China from June 1 to October 15 every year.

The MoU was renewed in 2008 and 2013. A separate MoU on Strengthening Cooperation on Trans-Border Rivers was inked on October 23, 2013. This MoU provided for China to share data with India from May 15 (instead of June 15 as agreed upon earlier) till October 15 every year, beginning 2014. New Delhi has a similar arrangement with Beijing since 2005 to receive hydrological data recorded at Tsada Station on the upper reaches of Langqen Zangbo or Sutlej river in Tibet.

Beijing, however, claimed last year that since its river data collection stations in Tibet Autonomous Region had been damaged by flood and required renovation and upgradation, it had not been able to collect the data and share it with New Delhi.

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Published 06 March 2018, 17:12 IST

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