Heavy discharge of Waters from China threatens Arunachal


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Brahmaputra Water Dispute, Course of Brahmaputra in India.

Mains level:  India-China differences over Brahmaputra


Highest discharge of water in decades

  1. The Yarlung Zangbo (Tsangpo) was swelling with observed discharge of 9,020 cumec due to heavy rainfall in Tibet.
  2. This discharge from China, the highest in 50 years, is threatening to submerge at least 12 villages along the river Siang in Arunachal Pradesh.
  3. Hydrological experts said the unusually high discharge indicates sudden release of water from man-made barriers or a natural dam.
  4. Natural barriers are formed due to landslips caused by major earthquakes in the Tibetan region of China.
  5. Local authority has issued an advisory, warning the people of the 12 villages to be on alert because of the sudden surge in the water level in Pasighat Dist.
  6. The Siang has already eroded 12 acres in Borguli village while at least 10 families of Seram village nearby have dismantled their houses and shifted to a safer location.

Learning from the Past

  1. The risen level has indications of water being suddenly released from a natural or man-made dam.
  2. Earthquakes triggered landslides and dammed Tsangpo last year resulting in Siang’s water turning muddy.
  3. Many in India talked about sudden collapse of the earthen dam in the future leading to moderate to big flood downstream in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
  4. But there was no serious follow-up action.
  5. The turbidity of Siang’s water last year was China’s plan to divert Tsangpo to the parched Xinjiang province via a 1,000 km tunnel.

Way Forward

  1. The situation is grim, and the government needs to come up with effective anti-erosion measures.
  2. The Central Water Commission needs to closely monitor the level and quality of Siang’s water.
  3. There is a lot of concern at the international, national and local levels about the geologically and strategically important Siang that impacts Bangladesh too.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China
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