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Satellites to verify China's claim on Brahmaputra: India

Thursday June 16, 2011 08:14:03 PM, IANS

New Delhi: India Thursday said it has satellite imagery proof that China was building only a run-of-the-river dam for power projects on the Brahmaputra river and that it posed no threat to Assam or Arunachal Pradesh.

"India today has assets and satellites that produce superb, high-calibre imagery and we have ascertained from our own sources of information and imagery that China is only building a run-of-the-river dam at Zangmu in middle reaches of Yarlung Tsango (as the Brahmaputra is called in Tibet)," a top government official said here.

Stressing that the clarification this time on the Chinese dam was different, the sources pointed out that all along India had only quoted Chinese foreign minister or the prime minister's assurances in this regard to state that there was no danger of diversion of the Brahmaputra's waters.

"We don't just discuss or just trust...we also verify," the official said, noting that India had the satellite capability for the last three years now. India launched Cartosat-2 satellite, having a very high resolution, in 2007.

China is likely to complete the work on the dam by July 2012 after which the water will flow through the dam, the sources said, noting that till such time the work is complete, a temporary dam in the midstream of the river had been done to aid construction.

"However, the river channels on either side of the dam continue to flow," they said.

"The government doesn't feel concerned or alarmed over the dam. But that doesn't mean we not make noise if any diversion takes place," they added.

The clarification came even as External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told reporters after his meeting with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi earlier in the day that China has assured India it is only building a run-of-the-river power project on the Brahmaputra in Tibet and that it would not divert the river.

"As a result, the question of diversion or storage of the water doesn't arise," Krishna said, assuring that India was monitoring the development though satellites to verify reports on its own.

"So when this is the case, my earnest suggestion to the governments of Assam as also Arunachal Pradesh is they should go ahead and prepare the necessary project reports in order to utilise the Brahmaputra water to the maximum benefit of the people," he said, adding that the states should prepare a plan in consultation with the Planning Commission and other agencies.

Gogoi said there were reports of diversion of the Brahmaputra water by China, and this could have an adverse ecological impact on his state.

"I have discussed this with Krishna and he told me ... there will be no impact and there will be no shortage of water," Gogoi said.

Pointing out that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier announced the creation of a northeastern river water authority, Gogoi said Arunachal Pradesh had not agreed to the idea.

"The purpose (of the authority) is the full utilisation and proper management of waters, whether for irrigation or power. We (Assam) are contemplating having an (authority) of our own. We have constituted an expert committee also," he added.

Government sources pointed out that the number of catchment points for the Brahmaputra inside India was huge and that the quantum of water that flows into India from China was "much, much lower" than the outflow from India to Bangladesh.

"We have enough water for all our development works and for the future too. Harnessing the water resources is in our hands. We have to do it for irrigation, power and flood control," the source said.




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