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China dam raises hackles in Assam

Indigenous organisations in Assam are up in arms against China's reported move to block one of the tributaries of the Brahmaputra in Tibet and construct a mega hydroelectric project on it. Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has decided to take up the matter with the Centre.

By A STAFF REPORTER in Guwahati
  • Published 4.10.16
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Guwahati, Oct. 3: Indigenous organisations in Assam are up in arms against China's reported move to block one of the tributaries of the Brahmaputra in Tibet and construct a mega hydroelectric project on it. Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has decided to take up the matter with the Centre.

The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), two leading indigenous organisations that are spearheading a movement against the construction of big dams on the Brahmaputra and its tributaries, today demanded that the chief minister must impress upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi the need to urgently take up the matter with China and prevent the neighbouring country from doing anything on the Brahmaputra that would hamper its natural flow in Assam.

"Prime Minister Modi has been claiming that India has been enjoying a great rapport in its diplomatic and external policies with several countries, including China. There are now great concerns in Assam that the natural flow of the Brahmaputra would be hampered due to the Chinese move to block one of the tributaries of the mighty river. So, the time has come for the Prime Minister to convince China to not construct anything on the Brahmaputra that will adversely impact Assam," AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi told The Telegraph this evening.

Gogoi said the Brahmaputra is not only a river but a lifeline for the people of Assam. He said the very evolution of Assamese civilisation is linked to the Brahmaputra.

China is planning to build a mega hydroelectric project on the Xiabuqu, a tributary of the Brahmaputra.

"The Centre and the Assam government must take up the issue at the highest international forum so that China cannot act according to its own whims and fancies," the AASU leader said.

Echoing AASU, the KMSS said China had no right to block the tributary and India must restrict its neighbour through diplomatic and other tactical pressures.

The Asam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad has threatened to launch an agitation if the Centre does not provide a satisfactory statement assuring that the proposed Chinese project will not hamper the natural flow of the Brahmaputra.

The press adviser to the chief minister, Hrishikesh Goswami, said Sonowal would soon take up the matter with the external affairs ministry and water resources ministry to know the actual factual position of the Chinese project.

Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi today wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to take up the matter with China. In the letter, Gogoi mentioned that when there were reports of China constructing dams on the Brahmaputra in 2004, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had immediately taken up the issue and done the needful.