India team on Brahmaputra in China ahead of Li's visit

Posted By: PTI
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New Delhi, May 17: An Indian experts' team is currently in China to review sharing of the Brahmaputra river data two days ahead of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit here during which India is expected to convey its concerns over the construction of three dams on the river by China.

According to officials, a senior delegation, comprising among others Commissioner Brahmaputra and Barak, Narendra Kumar, is currently in China to conduct the review exercise.

Though the officials maintain that the Indian experts' visit is part of annual meeting to review the data of the water flow under the agreement between the two countries inked in 2008, but its timing coincides with Li's three-day visit to India, starting from May 19.

India has already conveyed its concern over the Chinese proposal to construct three more dams across the Brahmaputra during a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and newly-elected Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Durban in March.

India has said the proposal to construct dams at Dagu, Jiacha and Jiexu in Tibet would affect water flow to India while China says it was just run-off-the-river project that would not hold water.

The issue is again expected to figure in Li’s talks with Singh on Monday.

In view of the Chinese proposal for construction of three more dams, India has been pressing China to have either a water commission or an inter-governmental dialogue to deal with water issues as under the current Expert Level Mechanism (ELM), the two countries only share hydrological information (water level, discharge and rainfall) on Yaluzangbu/ Brahmaputra river in flood season.

The issue was also discussed during the recent China visit of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who said, "One important, modest but significant move that we have seen is our discussions on the trans-border rivers."

He said the Chinese side at the highest level reaffirmed their intent to ensure that India's downstream interests are not affected adversely in any way.

"They have heard us out very carefully about either enhancing the mandate of the existing arrangement that allows for sharing of flood time hydrological information, expanding that in order to cover some of our concerns, or look at a separate mechanism that would address our concerns," the minister said immediately after his return from Beijing last week.


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