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Brahmaputra diversion by China not yet

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, Sept 21 � Amidst escalating tension over construction of mega dams in the upper reaches of Brahmaputra River, an Inter-Ministerial Expert Group (IMEG) after preliminary probe has found that there is no diversion of the water by China, as yet.

�No water diversion project has been noticed on the Brahmaputra River in general, so far,� said sources in the Ministry of Water Resources.

However, the piece of news has been taken with a pinch of salt, as the IMEG has gathered that on the Chinese side, the number of potential sites for the construction of dams, reservoirs and hydropower projects, on the Tsangpo River and its tributaries has increased to 21.

Sources said though only two sites at Zangmu and Jiacha have been observed on the main Brahmaputra River, it is suspected that rest of the hydropower projects may be on the many tributaries.

India is watching the situation with caution, despite reports that the upcoming projects on the Chinese side may not have much of an impact downstream, as these projects are mainly Run-of-River projects, catering to local electricity or irrigational requirements.

It has been learnt that China has communicated that the proposed Zangmu Hydropower station is small and its main function is generation of power and not water supply. This power station is not designed to store water and hence unlikely to regulate the volume of water flow. Therefore, it will not have an adverse impact on the downstream area in India, it has been assured.

Sources said despite the comforting news, India has stepped up monitoring the activities across the border related to construction of water conductor system in the adjacent river basins, from where construction work could be initiated towards the Brahmaputra. The area has been tentatively marked between the 25� N to 38� N latitudes and 90� E to 108� E longitudes.

Muck disposal and construction activities are also proposed to be monitored at such locations, said sources.

New Delhi is also exploring all legal options and provisions available under various multilateral conventions and agreements, just in case China decides to breach the status quo on the waters.

The high-level inter-ministerial group, assisted by a team of experts has been asked to submit a report every six months, detailing instances of suspicious activities on the Chinese sides, said sources.

As reported earlier, an IMEG under the chairmanship of the Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, has been set up to monitor activities of China in the Brahmaputra basin.

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