GUWAHATI: The discovery of some 100 barrels with purported signs of explosive chemical content in Siang river of Arunachal Pradesh has given rise to suspicion about China carrying out construction activities on Yarlung Tsangpo.
The barrels with Chinese inscriptions floated downstream of Siang recently days after the formation of a barrier lake on Tsangpo following a collapse of a cliff in the deep valley through which the river flows. Tsangpo becomes Siang when it enters Arunachal. Siang, Dibang and Lohit converge in eastern Assam bordering Arunachal to form the Brahmaputra.
Official sources confirmed some blue cylinders were fished out of the river by the locals but they denied the presence of chemical or explosive material.
East Siang district magistrate (DM), Tamiyo Tatak, said metallic and plastic materials seemed to have flowed downstream on October 19. “Around 50 containers flowed downstream into Assam but officials could not ascertain what they were,” he said.
Siang DM, Rajeev Takuk, said the barrels looked like fuel containers. “Since we could not retrieve and study the barrels, it will not be right to conclude negatively,” he said.
There has always been suspicion among the locals in Arunachal about China’s alleged attempt to make Siang dry through the diversion of Tsangpo waters. The barrels’ discovery has strengthened the suspicion about alleged Chinese mischief. In the past 18 months, Siang’s “unnatural behaviour” – the river suddenly drying up and flowing with high tide – made the locals to suspect about construction activities by China on Tsangpo.
The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) hit the streets on Wednesday and petitioned Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking a water treaty with the neighbouring nation.
“We have noticed Siang behaving abnormally in the past 18 months or so. We want the Government of India to act proactively for a water treaty with China,” AAPSU general secretary Tobom Dai said.
He said it was unfortunate that the Central government remained a mute spectator when China had been using Siang waters as per its whims and fancies.