“We have a bilateral agreement with China to share information on cross border rivers which include Brahmaputra and Sutlej,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in his weekly media briefing here.
“We also have an expert-level mechanism which meets regularly to discuss issues concerning cross border rivers,” he said.
“We have a data sharing arrangement under which the Chinese side provides us data during flood season on Brahmaputra and Sutlej.”
According to Xinhua news agency, China “on Friday (September 30) blocked a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo river (Tibetan name for the Brahmaputra) as part of its most expensive hydro project”.
“The Lalho project on the Xiabuqu River in Xigaze, involves an investment of 4.95 billion yuan ($740 million),” Xinhua quoted Zhang Yunbao, head of the project’s administration bureau, as saying.
Th Brahmaputra flows into Arunachal Pradesh from the Xigaze region which is also known as Shigatse.
The blocking of the tributary could have an impact on lower riparian countries like India and Bangladesh.
The move also comes as India has decided to revisit the Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan, by apportioning more water to itself. China and Pakistan are all-weather friends, and Beijing has openly backed Islamabad’s position on several issues that contradict India.
Swarup said that the current arrangement with China on the cross-border rivers has been useful in preventing damage during flood season, specially during landslides which create temporary dams.
“We have conveyed to the Chinese side that they should be mindful of the interests of the lower riparian while undertaking any projects on these rivers,” he said.
“The Chinese side has conveyed on several occasions that they are only undertaking run-of-the-river hydro power projects which do not involve diversion of the waters of the Brahmaputra,” the spokesperson said.
“All relevant issues which occurred after the last meeting will be taken up at the next meeting of the expert-level mechanism,” he added.