Chinese checkers: Arm twisting with rivers

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging ]
The pollution of the Siang/ Brahmaputra River has continued unabated for the last few months. Oily, mucky and slurry water is flowing down the river with increased turbidity and pollution.
This flow of polluted and contaminated water has the potential to seriously affect the lives and livelihood of millions of people living in the Siang/ Brahmaputra belt and Bangladesh. The contaminated and polluted water will also affect the entire ecosystem of the region. Since many animals like cattle, wild animals, birds, and such are dependent on this river, it will have a major impact on livestock, aquatic life and migratory birds.
The contamination of the Siang/Brahmaputra has been reported in most media of North East India. A few MPs and political leaders have also raised this issue. However, busy with the Gujarat and Himachal elections, the mainstream media has paid lip service to this serious issue.
It seems most crisis of our region emanates from China. There is a history of conflict with our northern neighbour. Everyone knows about the Indo-China conflict of 1962 where the Chinese forces entered almost 100 km inside the Indian Territory. There have been many border violations and skirmishes like the Sumdorong Chu incident of 1987.
Readers may recollect the flash floods which occurred in Arunachal Pradesh in 2000. These floods happened without rains in the area and were termed as the ‘China floods’ with many lives and livestock being lost, and many areas being washed away. It was later revealed the flash floods were caused by collapse of a natural dam in Tibet. This was followed by the 71-day ‘Eyeball to Eyeball’ confrontation over Doklam a few months ago.
China has already commissioned one 510 MW dam over the Yarlung Tsangpoat Zangmu. Three more dams are under construction at Dagu, Jiexu and Jiacha. There were also reports that China is planning a 1000 km long tunnel to divert the waters of the Yarlung Tsangpo to the arid region of Xinjiang.
And now we are faced with this issue of contamination of the Siang/Brahmaputra. If the contamination and pollution of the Siang/Brahmaputra continues for prolonged period, it would affect the lives and livelihood of humans, animals, birds and affect the entire ecosystem of the area. Many opine that it would be worse than war -almost akin to slow poisoning.
Some theories propound that the contamination and pollution of the Siang/ Brahmaputra is caused due to landslides caused by a series of earthquakes in Tibet. However, the water composition may indicate contamination of the Siang/Brahmaputra due to some massive construction work in Tibet.
Rivers are international property and belong to all citizens of the area through which it flows. Right to river water is one of the most fundamental and universal right and cannot be denied. Presently, there is no water treaty between India and China, and the government must initiate steps for a water treaty with China at the earliest.
On the flip side, if China considers Arunachal Pradesh as their territory, why should they contaminate Siang River?
Why are there so many problems with China? In case of any conflict with China, it would directly affect Arunachal and Assam. Can we do something about it? Is anyone seriously interested? (The contributor is Retired Group Captain)