NEW DELHI: China has assured India that the dam it is constructing on the Brahmaputra in Tibet will not divert the water of the river.
“The Chinese side has conveyed to us on several occasions that they are only undertaking run-of-the-river hydropower projects which do not involve diversion of the waters of the Brahmaputra,” MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Thursday.
Srivastava said that as a lower riparian State with considerable established user rights to the waters of the trans-border rivers, the government has consistently conveyed its views and concerns to the Chinese authorities .
“Various issues relating to trans-border rivers are discussed with China under the ambit of an institutionalized Expert Level Mechanism which was established in 2006, as well as through diplomatic channels. We intend to remain engaged with China on the issue of trans-border rivers to safeguard our interests,” he said.
On the hydro power project by Pakistan, Srivastava said that Pakistan has no right to construct any project, including the hydro power project in an area which Islamabad has forcibly occupied.
The Brahmaputra river, known as the Yarlung Tsangpo in China, originates from Tibet and flows into Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
He was asked about media reports that China will build a 'super dam' on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Tsangbo river in Tibet.
"We have taken note of some media reports in this regard. Government carefully monitors all developments on the Brahmaputra river," Srivastava said.
Noting that issues relating to trans-border rivers are discussed with China under the ambit of an institutionalised expert level mechanism which was established in 200 as well as through diplomatic channels, the MEA spokesperson said,"we intend to remain engaged with China on the issue of trans-border rivers to safeguard our interests."
The MEA spokesperson also said that "as a lower riparian State with considerable established user rights to the waters of the trans-border rivers, the government has consistently conveyed its views and concerns to the Chinese authorities and has urged them to ensure that the interests of downstream States are not harmed by any activities in upstream areas."
In Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry said there is no need to have "any anxiety over the project and that China will continue to have "good communication" with lower riparian states - India and Bangladesh.
On China's plans to build the dam over the river near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Arunachal Pradesh where the Brahmaputra enters India, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing that the "hydropower development in the lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo river is China's legitimate right. When it comes to use and development of cross border rivers, China always acts responsibly."
"We have a policy featuring development and conservation and all projects will go through science-based planning and assessment giving full consideration to impact downstream and accommodating the interests of upstream and downstream regions," Hua said.
"The development of lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo is in the early stages of planning and assessment. There is no need to read too much into that," she said, and added that "going forward China, India, Bangladesh and other concerned countries will continue to have good communication. There is no need for any anxiety on this matter."
India also stressed that the core issue in the ongoing military standoff with China in eastern Ladakh was the need to "strictly" follow various bilateral pacts and protocols in their entirety on maintenance of peace along the Line of Actual Control(LAC).
The assertion by External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivasava came at a media briefing in response to a question on a report by a US commission that China had planned the Galwan Valley incident.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in its latest annual report to the US Congress that the Chinese government had planned the Galwan Valley incident in June, potentially including the possibility for fatalities.
Twenty Indian soldiers were killed after valiantly fighting troops from the Chinese People's Liberation Army(PLA) in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15.
China is yet to disclose the number of its casualties.
The violent clashes triggered massive escalation of tension between India and China.
When asked about the American Congressional report at a media briefing, Spokesperson Srivasava referred to the press statement issued by India following the telephonic conversation between the foreign ministers of the two countries in the aftermath of the clashes.
"I would stress that the core issue remains that both sides need to strictly follow the various bilateral agreements and protocols in their entirety including the 1993 and 1996 agreement on maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the LAC," he said.
The agreements mandated that there should not be amassing of troops, each side should strictly abide by and respect the LAC and should not take any unilateral action to alter it.
Nearly 50,000 troops of the Indian Army are currently deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero conditions as multiple rounds of talks between the two sides have not yielded concrete outcome to resolve the standoff.
China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials.
The border standoff between the two sides erupted in early May.
Asked when will the next round of military talks between the two sides take place, Srivastava did not give a direct reply but said the two sides continued to maintain communication.
"As we have conveyed earlier, the two sides continue to maintain communication through diplomatic and military channels with the objective of ensuring complete disengagement in all friction points along the LAC in the Western sector and full restoration of peace and tranquility," he said.
"Both sides have agreed to have another round of Senior Commanders meeting at an appropriate time. As and when we have more information, we will share it with you," Srivastava said.
The eighth round of military talks had taken place on November 6 during which both sides broadly discussed disengagement of troops from specific friction points.
The two armies had described the eighth round of talks as candid, in-depth and constructive.
(With PTI Inputs)