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NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Thursday sought to allay anxiety surrounding the Chinese project to build a dam over the Brahmaputra river.
“We are very clear that this is a run-of-the-river project,” he said.
“There is no cause for alarm. It doesn't affect the downstream country,” Mr. Krishna told correspondents accompanying him from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Kazakhstan.
“As long as there is no [ill] effect, we are quite satisfied,” the Minister said, while mentioning that this view was based on an exhaustive assessment.
Mr. Krishna was forced to weigh in after clarifications by the Foreign Office failed to quell the unease over the issue, reflected in media reports
“My earnest suggestion to both Assam and Arunachal is that they should go ahead and prepare the necessary project reports in order to utilise the Brahmaputra waters to the maximum benefit of the people of the two States,” the Minister said, after meeting the Chief Ministers of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh here on Thursday.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi seemed satisfied by Mr. Krishna's response. “He told me that the project was not going to have any impact on Assam either economically or otherwise.”
Earlier, officials said recent reports about China's plans to construct a dam on the Brahmaputra and possibly divert the waters to Northern China were “not new.”
The reports related to the construction of a dam at Zangmu, in the middle reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo (as the Brahmaputra is called in Tibet).
“We have ascertained from our own sources that this is a run-of-the-river hydro-electric project, which does not store water, and will not adversely impact the downstream areas in India. Therefore, I believe, there is no cause for immediate alarm,” said Mr. Krishna.
“I would like to share with you the fact that a large proportion of the catchment area of the Brahmaputra is within Indian territory. It is important that Arunachal Pradesh and Assam harness and utilise the waters of the Brahmaputra. This is the really important issue.”
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