Gogoi plan for user right over Brahmaputra

GUWAHATI: The Assam government has sought the Planning Commission's help to claim the user's right over the Brahmaputra.

This comes amid India's efforts to have a water-sharing treaty with China that recently unveiled it plans to divert the Brahmaputra in Tibet where the river is known as the Tsangpo.

On Saturday, chief minister Tarun Gogoi said, "Last week, I told the Planning Commission that we should optimise the use of the Brahmaputra waters to claim the user's right over the river. We have been living with the idea that the Brahmaputra is a curse that causes devastating floods and erosion. We can actually make turn it into a boon." The CM added, "Experts have told me that China's diversion plans will not affect the Brahmaputra. When the river enters Assam from China, it discharges 78 million cubic metre of water into the state. But when it leaves the state and joins the Ganga, it discharges 600 million cubic metre of water. Aided by it tributaries, it generates more water in Assam than China."

Gogoi said, "The Centre is holding talks with China to have a water-sharing treaty. I, on my part, am trying to claim the user's right over the river, and that is why we should have hydel projects."

The Committee of Secretaries (CoS) has also asked Arunachal Pradesh to plan a major water storage project near the international border to establish its right over the river and counter China's diversion project. Gogoi said many hydel projects had been allotted to Arunachal Pradesh to establish its right over the Brahmaputra. One of these projects is located in Lower Subansiri.

Anti-dam activists have opposed it saying construction of a dam in the upper reaches would create havoc in the downstream. The CM added, "Some protesters recently forced the NHPC to take back turbines for hydel projects. I will bring back the turbines." Gogoi said he had asked for complete channelisation of the Brahmaputra in his proposal to the Planning Commission. He added, " The Brahmaputra has a massive discharge of water that not been tapped so far. The optimal utilization of its waters is our prime concern. It should be recognized as a flagship initiative in the 12th Five Year Plan.