Arunachal claim to divert attention from Brahmaputra looting?

via Raghavan Nair published on November 20, 2006

Usually an Ambassador of a foreign country shall be busy with hectic manoeuvres in all areas of mutual interest on the eve of their Head of State’s visit to the host country. But, the Chinese envoy’s recent utterances could be viewed as a preface to the kind of topics that may come up during the talks that the Chinese President is expected to hold with Indian leaders.


On November 22, in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, the Chinese Ambassador reiterated his country’s claim on 90,000 of territory in Arunachal Pradesh.  In this context, a thing to remember is that it has been the dispute over the 3,500 km Indo-China border that led to the 1962 war. Even today, India disputes China’s rule over 38,000 of barren, icy and uninhabited land on the Tibetan platue, which they captured from Indian in the 1962 war.  Several rounds of talks were held since 1981 to resolve the dispute but have so far failed to make progress.


Another important subject that India may raise with the Chinese President is about the damming that China is considering in river Brahmaputra which originates as the Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet. This project if implemented could be disastrous for 185 million people of northeastern India and Bangladesh.  In the Assam state itself, 80% of the population is involved in agriculture depending on Brahmaputra for irrigation. Assam also gets 60% of its power from hydro electric dams on the river and its tributaries.


So, the statement that comes from the Chinese Ambassador regarding Arunachal Pradesh and Government of India’s policy of keeping Chinese Companies away for security reasons etc are aimed at distracting public opinion from the main issue, the Brahmaputra water and the Chinese occupied Indian Territory.  Few could believe that China would invade Arunachal, but there is genuine concern that it could one day claim the Brahmaputra’s water. Mr.Guo Kai, who designed the Great Western Route Water Diversion Project, proposed that by diverting 200 billion cubic meter of water annually to the Yellow River from Brahmaputra and five other rivers could quench the thirst of all China and the water supply can last for 1000 years.


For decades India has been considering a plan to link the Brahmaputra, the Ganges and other rivers through a network of canals. The plan originally came up during the British rule and the Janata Government lead by Morarji Desai proposed a revival of the plan. Last year, President Abdul Kalam also appealed for the revival of that project and even the World Bank has recommended that the government seriously consider that project.  But the Indian water experts have dismissed it as a wasteful vanity project!!

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