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Centre allays fear of dam on Brahmaputra
Spl Correspondent
 NEW DELHI, July 31 – Allaying apprehensions over reports of China constructing dam on the river Brahmaputra, External Affairs Minister, S M Krishna said India has instituted a mechanism of expert level talks and water resources between the two countries. The mechanism would focus on issues such as, exchange of feeder control data and emergency response management in Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers, he said.

Several MPs including Biswajit Daimary, S S Ahluwalia and Tariq Anwar had raised the issue of China’s purported move to divert Brahmaputra river and the boundary dispute between India and China, during a discussion on the working of the Ministry of External Affairs in the Rajya Sabha.

The External Affairs Minister however, faced flak in both the Houses of the Parliament over his response to the issues raised by the Opposition. To top it all he goofed up on several occasions today.

The External Affairs Minister named Kumar Deepak Das, as having raised certain issues regarding the development of North-east. It was not the AGP MP, but Biswajit Daimary of BPF, who had participated in the discussion on Thursday. The goof-up left enraged Daimary as he tried in vain to point out the error

Certain issues regarding development of the North-east and its role in the country’s foreign policy were raised, said the Minister.

North-east has been an important focus area for the Ministry. “We have the Kaladan multi-model transit transport project to connect ports in India’s Eastern seaboard to the north Eeastern states via Myanmar and Tamu-Kalewa-Kalimpong Road, connecting

Manipur to Myanmar,” he said.

It is not Kalimpong, which is in Darjeeling district in north Bengal, but the 160 Km Tamu-Kalewa- Kalemyo Road that India has built in neighbouring Myanmar.

With China, India has a strategic and cooperative partnership, said Krishna.

“We have an established architecture for dialogue through which all issues of common interest and concern are discussed,” said Krishna.

There are outstanding issues between India and China. The Special Representatives are discussing the boundary question and both countries have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement to this issue.

“The matter of course, is complex and requires time and lots of patience. Our endeavour is to ensure that peace and tranquillity are maintained in the border areas,” he said.

Bilateral trade with China has grown significantly and a target of US $ 60 billion dollars by 2010 has been jointly set for such trade. The shared vision for the 21st century signed by Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, with his Chinese counterpart, in January, 2008 has added a regional and multi-dimensional aspect to our bilateral ties, he pointed out.

India is also taking several steps to enhance engagement of north eastern states with Myanmar. “We are opening up trade at border points with Myanmar.

“In our discussions with Bangladesh, we have accorded the highest priority to enhance connectivity between Bangladesh and north eastern states.

“Under the ‘Look East’ policy, we have taken various initiatives in the ASEAN East Asia Summit, which includes India, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China and South Korea. We have Bengal initiative for multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand (BIMSTEC),” he said.

“The Mekong-Ganga Corporation, which should include India, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam is there. They all have great potential in rejuvenating our historical and our changing economic circumstances in the world. We see great opportunities in advancing the process of our economic integration with

the ASEAN and other countries in the region,” he said.

“In this activity, we have been coordinating closely with our Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER),” Krishna said.

Yesterday, participating in the discussion, Daimary said that because India does not have good relations with its neighbours, arms are still flowing into the North-east. Though militants have shifted base from neighbouring Bhutan, the international border is still hot, he said.

He also sought to know the status of the proposed trilateral highway connecting India-Myanmar-Thailand. He also wanted to know why Government of India is not talking to China to re-open the Stilwell Road, connecting the two countries via Myanmar.

He also referred to reports of China trying to divert the river Brahmaputra. If this is true then it would have a devastating impact for north eastern region, West Bengal and Bangladesh, he opined.

He also underlined the need for the Ministry of External Affairs to consult the north eastern states in matters regarding its neighbourhood.