Amid Doklam standoff, Assam suspects China’s role in floods, wants release of hydrological data
Guwahati, August 24: At a time when India and China are involved in a standoff near the tri-border junction at Doklam in the Sikkim region, the latter's refusal to release hydrological data could further strain the relationship between the two neighbouring countries as Assam wants clarity on reasons behind the third wave of floods which led to the death of at least 60 people in August.
The latest wave of floods submerged at least 31 districts out of 33 in the northeastern state.
Thus the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Assam will soon officially approach the Centre--where again saffron party is in power-- to seek hydrological data from China to find out the "real reasons" behind the third wave of floods in the state.
Assam government maintains that the state and its neighbouring areas did not receive "unnatural rainfall" in the recent times to trigger such massive floods this month.
Recently, China said that it would not share river water data with India unless it withdraws its troops from Doklam. China would not carry out normal cooperation on hydrological data unless India agrees to withdraw troops from Doklam, as per a report by The Global Times, an English language Chinese daily.
Since long, Assam is living under the fear that release of water from Chinese dams built on the Yarlung Tsangpo, as the river Brahmaputra is known in China, could submerge the entire state. In fact, Brahmaputra flows from China to Assam.
Thus, the Assam government wants the Centre to ask China to release the hydrological data as it is a "serious issue" for the state and its "survival".
"We are flagging this issue because the third wave of floods took everyone by surprise as there was no unnatural rain. We are not linking the flood to release of water from dams on the Brahmaputra in China. There is a lot of speculation but it's a fact that China, according to the ministry of external affairs, has not shared data from May 15 as per the agreement signed in 2006 and 2013. The data has to be shared periodically and daily during the flood season," said senior cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Sarma added sharing of river water data would help to tackle floods. "It's about our survival. We need to know where the water came from. There was also no warning from China. Unnatural release of river water could be a ticking hydrogen bomb. Hence the need to share data, as it will not only end speculation but also trigger debate and research which will benefit us in the long run," Sarma said.
The minister stated that during the latest floods in Assam, the rise in water level was sudden.
"The Met office may have predicted heavy rain but check the actual amount of rainfall we received. It was not unnatural. The Arunachal Pradesh chief minister also said they received normal rainfall. If the rainfall was normal, flooding because of release of excess water from Ranganadi can be ruled out. We need to express our concern through the Centre, notwithstanding Doklam," he added.