Gaurav seeks water treaty

Gaurav Gogoi with Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday

Guwahati: Assam MP Gaurav Gogoi has pushed for a bilateral water treaty with neighbouring countries in a meeting with foreign minister Sushma Swaraj following reported attempts by China to divert the Brahmaputra.

The first-time Congress MP from Kaliabor met Sushma in Delhi on Tuesday and expressed "concern" over the negative impact of hydroelectric projects being built by and the "non-sharing" of hydrological data by China.

In a letter to Sushma, he said these developments make the case for a "structured" bilateral water treaty all the more important.

"The absence of a bilateral water treaty with China grants it space to claim a larger stake on the use of the river's water because of its mega projects," Gaurav, son of former chief minister Tarun Gogoi, said.

He said if the issue goes for arbitration in future, the ruling could even be in "favour" of China simply because India "hasn't shown much" initiative in "preventing expropriation" of the Brahmaputra, known as the Yarlung Tsangpo in China and Siang in Arunachal Pradesh.

Non-sharing of data and alleged diversion of the Brahmaputra by China, which purportedly turned the river's water turbid, have evoked widespread concern in Assam.

According to Delhi, China has not shared hydrological data on the Brahmaputra since June 2016. According to a pact between the two countries, the data is to be shared between May 15 and October 15 twice a day. Had China shared the data, tackling floods in Assam and Bihar would have been easier, officials said.

"What complicates matters 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 use of river waters, including hydro projects and any water diversion," Gaurav said.

In October, China had said it could not share data because the collection station in Tibet was being upgraded and on Tuesday it said an earthquake in Tibet had resulted in the Brahmaputra's water turning turbid.


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