Sign water-sharing pact with China, Gogoi urges PM

GUWAHATI: A day after Beijing formally announced that it would start constructing a dam on the Tsangpo river that flows into Assam as Brahmaputra, state chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday said he would request Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sign a water-sharing treaty with China.

"We are taking up the issue very seriously. I will talk to external affairs secretary Nirupama Rao to know what Chinese authorities have told her about the dam. But right now, I will request the prime minister to consider signing a water-sharing treaty with China — a sort of understanding that New Delhi has with Islamabad," Gogoi told reporters.

The CM said he would ask the Centre to closely watch developments across the border and seek a team to study the downstream impacts that India will have to face once the dam comes up in China. The study should be carried out for our future safety.

The Brahmaputra rises from near Lake Mansarover. After flowing eastwards through Tibet, it takes a U-turn to the south before entering Arunachal Pradesh. The Brahmaputra flows 918km before falling into the Bay of Bengal. China's plan is to dam the Brahmaputra and divert 200 billion cubic metres of water every year to the country's north-east regions of Shaanxi, Hebei, Beijing and Tianjin.

In 2006, when it was first reported that China would build a dam on the river as it flows through Tibet, Gogoi had sought Singh's intervention to impress upon Chinese authorities to stop damming the Brahmaputra in Chinese territory.

Experts fear construction of a dam on the Brahmaputra in China might slowly turn biodiversity-rich Assam and Arunachal Pradesh into semi-arid states and deplete the groundwater table.

Gogoi said he would make a joint effort with his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart, Dorjee Khandu, for drawing the Centre's attention on the Chinese dam on the river on which Assam's economy largely depends on.