GUWAHATI, July 10 � In the present juncture, it has become imperative for the four riparian nations � China, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh to enter into a water-sharing treaty for sustainable, equitable and judicious exploitation of water resources of the Brahmaputra river in a climate of trust and harmony.
This observation was made by Prof Nayan Sarma, a leading water resources expert of the country and Head of the Department of Water Resources Development and Management, IIT, Roorkee. He was talking to The Assam Tribune.
In this context, Prof Sarma has referred to the Chinese plans to build several mega-dam projects over the Brahmaputra, in its Tibetan part, which is known as the Yarlung Tsangpo/Zangbo.
Besides the 510-MW Zangmu dam, five more dams, downstream of Zangmu, are under active consideration of the Chinese authorities. And these include the largest of all the hydel dams of the world�the about 38,000 MW Motuo dam.
Proposal of another massive dam Daduqia, with an installed capacity of 42,000 MW, just near the Big Bend on the river, close to the Indian border, is also under active consideration of the Chinese authorities to meet the 40,000 MW shortfall of power in China, said Prof Sarma.
He also referred to the issues connected with the phenomenon of global warming, or, climate change in this respect. He maintained that from a recent academic study carried out by an international research consortium on the Upper Brahmaputra river through the BRAHMATWINN Research Project, it has come to notice that the source glaciers and the snow cover mass feeding the Yarlung Tsangpo has been showing some signs of depletion.
This is probably due to the impacts of global warming, or, climate change. However, further technical investigations are needed to confirm the above phenomenon, which, if found to be the reality, will potentially have profound impact on the water availability from the Tsangpo in the coming decades primarily affecting China, India and Bangladesh, he said.
In the current context of climate change and rising population growth, it is anticipated that there will be a steep hike in water demand in the coming decades which may potentially give rise to discord amongst the riparian nations in the absence of water sharing mechanism.
It will be, therefore, a wise move on the part of the four riparian countries of the Brahmaputra River to immediately initiate the required motions for judiciously formulating the long overdue water sharing agreement without any further postponement of the task, said Prof Sarma.
He said that there are many instances of similar water use of trans-boundary rivers amongst big and small countries without generating any undesirable sense of acrimony.
The water sharing agreement for the Danube River in Europe, entered into by the sixteen riparian countries, is probably a classic example of desirable harnessing of a trans-boundary river for the common good.
Notably, the water sharing treaty between India and Pakistan for Indus River has successfully averted any conflict as a result of Indus water use and facilitated gainful development of water resources, he said.
For expeditious economic growth of the South Asian region, such an agreement can be equipped with an in-built mechanism for sharing of relevant data and research.
Besides, it may also have the provisions of joint survey and project investigation, joint monitoring and planning of water resources projects, and gainful sharing of advancements made in the highly intricate discipline of river engineering, Prof Sarma said.
It goes without saying that brokering of such an agreement will engender an environment of good neighbourly relations as well as accrual of economic benefits from the Brahmaputra river system in a collective manner, he maintained.