Solve Brahmaputra issue through diplomatic channels: BJP to PM

Expressing his concern on reports about China's plans to divert Brahmaputra waters, senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to address the sensitive issue through diplomatic channels.

"India has already a water sharing treaty with Pakistan. Therefore, being a riparian country, India needs to engage China alongwith other effected nation- Bangladesh for a tripartite water treaty at the earliest," Mr Singh said in a letter written to the Prime Minister yesterday.

A party statement today said the former BJP president apprehended that if China succeeds in diverting Brahmaputra's course, it will have devastating effect on millions of people living in Assam and other north eastern states.

He said Brahmaputra is an international river and according to the International Water Treaty, its water can not be diverted in an arbitrary manner.

"China has been building nine such dams on the Brahmaputra river. These reports were creating an outrage and anger in India's northeastern part and the people want immediate action from the Central government to stop this diversion of the Brahmaputra's flow," Mr Singh added.

He also demanded that a team of experts be sent to China for a first hand account of the construction site.

Mr Singh said when the matter was raised by the media before External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, he said India would independently inquire about the dam construction reports. The BJP leader added that China has been denying the existence of any such projects for the past couple of years during its formal discourse with India through diplomatic channels.

"Now they openly admit its existence and even advise the people of the north east India to use their available water resources judiciously. Ironically, our Foreign Minister continues to believe that the project will not do any harm to India's interest," Mr Singh said.

He said it was a question of livelihood for the people of north east including Assam.

The BJP leader said his party has raised the issue of China diverting the flow of the Brahmaputra river towards its southern part on several occasions but the government seems to be oblivious of these facts.

"I hope that the government will not ignore these developments in China this time. The BJP will extend its full support to any concrete action taken to stop the diversion of the Brahmaputra in China," he added.

It is a fact that China has dammed the main flow of Brahmaputra river at Zangmu but it has created two channels to let the water flow, so that was not going to affect the river in states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, according to the government sources.

Comprehensive satellite pictures show that the river was being obstructed by works on a hydroelectric project at Zangmu, but this obstruction was not significant to affect the flow of the river in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, or even in Bangladesh.