Difficult to verify Chinese activities on Brahmaputra: Minister

Nongkrem (Meghalaya), July 2 (IANS) It would be difficult for India to verify the Chinese activities on the Brahmaputra river in the absence of any water-sharing agreement between the two countries, union Development of Northeastern Region Minister B.K.Handique said Saturday.

"It is difficult for us to exactly know the Chinese activities on Brahmaputra river since we cannot carry out a joint inspection to verify the facts," Handique told IANS at Assam Rifles headquarters here in Meghalaya.

"Had we have water sharing agreement with them (China), we would have gone there and verified it with them jointly, but in absence of the agreement it is difficult for us," he said.

Handique said the Chinese have informed India that there is no plan to divert the waters of the Brahmaputra, "but we should remain cautious". "In fact, in 1990, they had a proposal to divert the water of Brahmaputra," he said.

He, however, said China admitted about the construction of run-of-the-river hydro-electric project which will not adversely impact downstream areas in India.

The 2,906 km-long Brahmaputra is one of Asia's longest rivers that traverses its first stretch of 1,625 km in Tibet, the next 918 km in India and the remaining 363 km in Bangladesh before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

China's plans to build a dam over the Brahmaputra river and divert its water into its arid provinces have been opposed by regional governments in India's northeast.

"Hydrological experts have also ruled out any plan to divert the Brahmaputra as it is not a feasible project," Handique said.

According to reports, China is building a dam in Tibet to divert the Tsangpo river, which is the source river of Brahmaputra originating from the Himalayas in China.

Other experts say that if the project is commissioned, it would almost certainly have devastating consequences on the lives of millions of people in India and Bangladesh.

Apart from the dam, China is reportedly planning to divert 200 billion cubic metres of water to feed the Yellow river in an attempt to ease the acute water shortage in Shaanxi, Hebel, Beijing and Tianjin.

The "South-to-North Water Diversion" project is currently being debated in Beijing for its technical feasibility, reports say.

India and China do not have a water-sharing agreement. Until recently, water sharing was never on the agenda of bilateral talks between the two countries.

India and China fought a bitter border war in 1962, with Chinese troops advancing deep into what is now Arunachal Pradesh.