Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Something very sinister is happening in the Siang river, which may have damaging long-term repercussions in Arunachal, Assam, and Bangladesh.
It’s over a year now that the contamination of the Siang river was reported in various sections of the print, electronic, and social media. The pristine and beautiful Siang river had suddenly turned dark and oily, and slurry patches flowed along the entire stretch of the river. These dark, oily patches contaminated the river, and it was reported that most fish and aquatic species migrated to tributaries of the Siang river. There were reports of diseases and death among cattle, buffalo, mithuns, etc, who drank from the Siang river.
Many theories were put forward by various experts to analyze the reasons for the contamination of the Siang (and thus the Brahmaputra). Some reported that the contamination was caused by massive construction work in Tibet. Some reported that the contamination was caused by massive mining operations in Tibet. Some reported that the contamination was caused by debris created by a series of earthquakes in the Tibetan side.
The state government took up the issue with the central government, which further referred the matter to the Chinese government. As expected, the Chinese government denied any large-scale mining and large-scale construction in the Tibetan side.
However, the contamination continued, and the Siang remained dark with oily, slurry patches.
During the last few months, many areas of East Siang district have been ravaged by the rampaging Siang river. The river is threatening many villages in Mebo and Pasighat areas due to massive soil erosion caused by the rising level of the river despite deficient rainfall. Villages like Sigar, Borguli, Seram, Namsing, and Mer are on the brink of being washed away. Many villagers are unable to sleep peacefully, and many have shifted their houses to better locations.
It seems that the continuing contamination of the Siang river, originating in Tibet and China, has led to a rise of the riverbed, leading to this dangerous and rampaging Siang river. It is estimated that the bed of the Siang river has been raised by several feet, leading to the river spreading sideways and causing massive soil erosion.
The most probable reason for this increase in the riverbed is the prolonged deposits of a mix of cement and oil caused by massive construction and mining activities along the Tibetan side of the river. Certain reports indicate that massive tunnels are being constructed to divert the waters of the Tsangpo/Siang to other areas.
Besides taking up the issue again with the Chinese government, there is a need to verify the enormity of the construction and mining activities along the Tibetan side through satellite pictures, reconnaissance, and human intelligence.
In addition, if emergency protection measures are not initiated this winter to control this rampaging soil erosion by the Siang, many villages, along with their agricultural fields, may be wiped out in the next summer season. The state government and the central government need to act immediately. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)