Swaraj allays Ering’s fear over Chinese hand behind Siang’s turbidity

NEW DELHI, Jan 18: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has brushed aside the apprehension of Member of Parliament Ninong Ering that the waters of the Siang turning black could be the result of Chinese handiwork.
Ering had first raised the issue of the Siang turning muddy, apprehending that the change in the water quality could be due to a possible diversion of the river in Tibet. He had urged the Prime Minister to take up the matter with the Chinese government.
Replying to Ering’s 4 December letter on the issue, the external affairs minister said she personally raised the issue with the Chinese foreign minister during his recent visit to India.
‘In their recent statements, made in response to the media reports drawing possible linkage between the recent deterioration in the quality of the Siang/Brahmaputra river and the infrastructure construction activities on the river in China, the Chinese foreign ministry as well as the Chinese embassy in New Delhi have denied any such link, and have stated that the situation was caused by an earthquake in the region and was not a manmade incident,’ the external affairs minister said in her reply to Ering’s letter.
She said the Chinese foreign ministry in a public statement rejected media reports about alleged plans for construction of a 1,000 km long tunnel to divert waters from the Brahmaputra to Xinjiang region as ‘untrue.’
Swaraj said that the Centre, in close cooperation with various state governments which are the users of the waters of the Siang/Brahmaputra, continues to carefully monitor the water flow in the Brahmaputra for early detection of abnormality, so that corrective and preventive measures are taken to safeguard the livelihood of the peoples of these states.
‘As a lower riparian state with considerable established user rights to the waters of the trans-border rivers, we have consistently conveyed our views and concerns to the Chinese authorities, including at the highest levels, and have urged them to ensure that the interests of downstream states are not harmed by any activities in upstream areas,’ the union minister stated in her reply.
The union minister further said that the Chinese side has conveyed to India on several occasions that they are only undertaking run-of-the-river hydropower projects, which do not involve diversion of the waters of the Brahmaputra.
The external affairs minister assured Ering that the government will remain engaged with China on the issue of trans-border rivers to safeguard the interests of the country, including through the expert level mechanism.