NEW DELHI, Jan 3 - Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi has called for a structured bilateral water treaty with China to safeguard the country’s interests and access important hydrological data.
The Lok Sabha member, who met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday, submitted a note, stating that the possibility of China diverting the waters of River Brahmaputra adds to insecurity. The construction of a dam, 13 km upstream of Tsangpo by diverting the entire water inside a mountain, suggests that the purpose may not just be hydropower generation. The purpose could be to divert a portion of the Brahmaputra to the parched areas of Taklamakan desert.
Gogoi said that he had written to the Prime Minister, requesting that the Chinese Government should share the details of the possible downstream impact of construction of hydroelectric projects on the Tsangpo. He said that absence of any bilateral water treaty with a neighbouring country like China grants it space to claim a larger stake on the use of waters of the Brahmaputra.
What complicates the matter is that neither India nor China is party to the Convention on the law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Water Courses 1997, which states that parties have an obligation to share information on the use of river waters, including hydro projects and any water diversion, Gogoi pointed out. The MP stressed that India needs to engage with China’s growing influence in its neighbourhood in a positive and constructive manner.