NEW DELHI, June 13 � Troubled by fresh reports of China embarking upon a new plan to divert the river Brahmaputra, India has sought details from our embassy in Beijing.
�We are seeking details from our embassy in China about reports that Beijing was considering a new plan to divert the Brahmaputra river from its upper reaches,� External Affairs Minister SM Krishna told newsmen.
�We are trying to get more details both from the government and from our mission and depending upon the report we get, we will be able to make an assessment and take appropriate steps,� Krishna said today, reacting to a report in the Xinhua News Agency.
Krishna said he had seen a media report about China�s plans to divert the Brahmaputra waters, but said the question comes up �off and on�.
Later, official sources reacting to media reports said India has been in touch with China on many occasions. Beijing has made it clear it is a run-of-the-river project, he said, reminding that this is not the first time such reports have come.
�Whenever any such report comes, we verify,� he clarified, adding that it was the normal process.
�We have a good comprehensive dialogue mechanism with China,� sources said.
On the possibility of India signing a water sharing treaty with China, sources said India has some understanding with Beijing on sharing information.
When asked whether India could rely on the assurance given by China, sources said they have no reasons to believe otherwise.
On June 8, Xinhua News Agency reported that following severe drought affecting a large portion of the country, China has started to consider diverting water from the Brahmaputra river.
A scholar at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Wang Guangqian was quoted as having stated that Chinese experts have raised a new proposal to divert water from the upper reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river to the country�s north western province of Xinjiang.
The Xinhua report said the water diversion route in the proposal, named the �Grand Western Canal,� is slightly different from the �western canal� mentioned in China�s well-known South-North Water Diversion Project approved by the State Council in December 2002.
The new proposed route is expected to start from the Brahmaputra river, from which China can reroute the water to Xinjiang along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the Hexi Corridor � part of the Northern Silk Road located in Gansu province.
Wang admitted the serious water crisis across China has forced experts to think about the new water diversion scheme earlier than they had wanted to.
�We thought this would be a plan 50 years later,� he was quoted as having said.
One of the most famous proposals was raised in 1990 by Guo Kai, a water expert, suggesting a project that diverts 200.6 billion cubic meters of water every year from the Brahmaputra river to the Yellow river, the report said.
However, a 2009 report quoted previous minister of the Ministry of Water Resources Wang Shucheng, denying the feasibility of the plan. At the time, Wang Shucheng believed the water diversion from the Yangtze River is enough for North China�s water supply and redirecting so much water from the Brahmaputra river every year is not even practical, because such a huge flush will destroy all the dams over the Yellow river.
Currently Chinese experts and government officials are studying the feasibility and possible impacts of distinct proposals.
As reported by this newspaper, a Committee of Secretaries headed by Cabinet Secretary constituted to monitor the issue had in its last meeting decided not to press the panic button just yet, as concerned government agencies including the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) have reported that hydro-electric projects upstream are run-of-the-river projects.
Representatives of the Department of Space (DoS) and NTRO also submitted at the April 26 meeting that run-of-the-river hydro-electric projects undertaken by the Chinese should not be a cause of concern for India. However, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) submitted that although it agrees that only run-of-the-river type projects are being taken up by China, it is not fully convinced that these are not a cause of concern for India.
The MEA was then asked to firm up its views after which the situation would be further reviewed, sources said.