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International, Water

Bangladeshi oganisation raises to make bilateral agreements public

Left Democratic Alliance yesterday demanded that the government make public the bilateral documents it signed with India during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit to the neighbouring country.

Reportedly, Bangladesh’s interests have been overlooked and India’s interests were given priority in the agreements, the alliance leaders said at a press conference in the capital’s Mukti Bhaban.

In protest, LDA will stage a rally at Jatiya Press Club on Sunday afternoon, they said.

On Saturday, Bangladesh and India signed seven bilateral documents, aiming to further strengthen the relations between the two countries, according to media reports.

The bilateral documents are: MoU for providing a coastal surveillance system; the standard operating procedure on the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India; MoU on withdrawal of 1.82 cusec water from the Feni river by India for a drinking water supply scheme in Sabroom town of Tripura; agreement on implementation of the lines of credit committed by India to Bangladesh; MoU between the University of Hyderabad and the University of Dhaka; MoU on cooperation in youth affairs and renewal of a cultural exchange programme.

The government has agreed to India’s use of Bangladesh’s sea ports but it did not disclose the agreement’s terms and conditions before the countrymen, said Communist Party of Bangladesh President Mujahidul Islam Selim.

Nothing has been said about whether there are any “protective measures” in the agreement, he said.

Selim also said the present government came to power through a “farcical election”. As a result, it agreed to whatever demands were made by India because its aim was to “survive” in power.

“This government has to step down if Bangladesh’s interests are to be upheld,” he added.

On the killing of Buet student Abrar Fahad, the left-leaning politician said such incidents would not have happened at a renowned educational institution if students there had the chance to practice and engage in ideology-based political activities.

Reading out a written statement, LDA central leader Abdus Sattar said countrymen are aggrieved and frustrated over PM’s consent to the withdrawal of water from the river Feni, as Bangladesh’s demand for logical distribution of water of common rivers, including the Teesta, still remains unresolved.

“This is similar to betraying the country and its citizens after sacrificing Bangladesh’s interest,” he said.

Saiful Haque, general secretary of Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh, said Bangladesh as a sovereign country has failed diplomatically during PM’s recent visit to India and that the countrymen also rejected the government’s recent deals.

Withdrawal of Feni River Water: Experts see little impact here

India is going to draw around 51.54 litres of water per second from the Feni river once the deal between Bangladesh and India is implemented, but doubts remain as to how much impact it would have on Bangladesh.  

The Feni water-sharing agreement was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi on October 6.

Some experts say the drawing of water will have little impact on the downstream of the Feni river. 

Yet, the deal regarding withdrawal of 1.82 cusec of water by India, to be used as drinking water for the people of Sabroom town in Tripura, triggered sharp criticism in Bangladesh.  

The condemnation comes due to India dillydallying on signing the Teesta deal for last eight years even after finalisation of the deal and suspicions regarding the nature of the deal. 

“I think withdrawal of 1.82 cusecs of water will have very little impact in the downstream. After a series of discussions, we have agreed to provide them the water for drinking purpose. There is no shortage of water during the monsoon and during the lean period, the river has a minimum flow of the water around 110 cusecs,” said KM Anwar Hossain, member, Joint Rivers Commission (JRC), Bangladesh.

He explained the quantity of water in one cusec water was equivalent to 28.32 litres of water flow per second. So, 1.82 cusec will be equivalent to 51.54 litres water per second. 

When asked when the water-sharing would start, Anwar said it would start soon as the MoU was already signed.  

While there is optimism on a government level, questions remain regarding how much water is to be withdrawn and how it would be monitored. 

Professor Saiful Islam of the Institute of Water and Flood management, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), said the discharge of Feni river was around 750 cusecs during the monsoon, while it was over 100 cusecs in winter. 

“That means they are going to withdraw around two to three percent of water from the river during the lean period, which would not be a problem. 

“But if they withdraw more than 1.82 cusecs, it may affect Muhuri-Feni irrigation project based on the water from Feni river,” he said. 

Around 230.076 hectares land area is under the Muhuri-Feni irrigation project.

He, however, said it was necessary to sign deals on sharing of the water of all transboundary rivers. 

Locals living by the Feni river in Khagrachhari said India had been withdrawing water from the Feni river “unofficially”, by setting up small pumps at zero point. 

Regarding the deal, many said there was confusion whether it was to draw 1.82 cusec of water or more.  

“If they withdraw 1.82 cusec of water, it will not have much impact downstream. But, if they withdraw 1.82 cumec instead, it will be a disaster for us because 1.82 cumec is 35 times higher than 1.82 cusec. So, the government should make it clear about the signed MoU,” said M Inamul Haque, Chairman, Institute of Water & Environment. 

According to the joint statement of Hasina’s official visit to India, it is mentioned that 1.82 cusec of water will be withdrawn. A copy of the MoU, however, is yet to be made available on public domains.

In regards to monitoring, JRC member Anwar said, “Now India will invite Bangladesh to oversee the withdrawal activities jointly with them. They will set up water pumps to withdraw the water, while officials of Bangladesh and India will jointly monitor the activities,” he said. 

“The officials will monitor some issues like whether the withdrawal activities cause any harm to the river, so it does not cause any erosion on the river bank,” he said.

Source: The Star Daily

Defence, Water

Unravelling the Mystery of Brahmaputra River Issue

From DEFENCE AVIATION POST

Brahmaputra River Issue

On 07 September 2012, our former President Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam made a prophetic statement while speaking at St Thomas College, Pala saying, “Future wars will be over water”. While referring to this, one is not talking about the present Cauvery Water Crisis between Karnataka and Tamilnadu. There has been a lot of discomfort in the Indian strategic circles that China may choke the water of Brahmaputra, known as Yarlong Zangbo in China, either by constructing dams on it or by diverting her waters, thereby affecting the availability of water for the middle riparian state of India and the lower riparian state of Bangladesh. China has not signed a water sharing treaty with any country and that increases the uncertainties about her behaviour over water.

All strategists studying China know about her penchant for building her asymmetric capabilities. Colonel Qiao Liang and Colonel Wang Xiangsui, two Chinese Colonels who wrote a book titled ‘Unrestricted Warfare’ in which they described all types of asymmetric capabilities that China may use against her adversaries. They mention that modern technology can be employed to influence the natural state of rivers under the subject of Ecological Warfare. Such writings by Chinese themselves have added to the concerns about China’s intentions with respect to the dams that she is building on Brahmaputra.

For long, there has been an uneasy expectation that China will divert the waters of Brahmaputra from the Great Bend (that is created by the Yarlong Zangbo going around the massive Namcha Barwa Feature), to get water to the parched Northern parts of China (Refer Map1).

Northern parts of China map_1
Map 1.

More worrying than China’s construction of Hydro power dams on the Brahmaputra is the proposed northward diversion of its waters at the Great Bend. If this diversion takes place, it may result in a significant drop in the river’s water level as it enters India. Should that happen, then it will have a serious impact on agriculture and fishing in the downstream areas as the salinity of water will increase. Some analysts predict the extreme view that “water wars” could break out between India and China while a few others reject such predictions of a Sino-Indian war over the Brahmaputra.

However, Jiao Yong, the then Chinese Vice Minister for Water Resources is on record saying that, “The Yarlung Zangbo river flows across China’s Qinghai Tibet Plateau. Many Chinese citizens have been calling for greater usage of this river. However, considering the technical difficulties, actual need of diversion, possible impact on the environment and state-to-state relations, the Chinese government has no plans to conduct any diversification project in this river”. He said this in response to a query during a press conference in Beijing on 13 October 2011.

Many a time the Brahmaputra water diversion project is also confused with the three water diversion projects that China is undertaking (Refer Map 2).

Map 2
Map 2.

All these are part of the river linking projects that China thought of during Mao Zedong’s regime in the 1950s. The $62 billion South-North Water Transfer Project aims to divert 44.8 billion cubic meters of water per year from the Yangtze River in Southern China to the Yellow River Basin in arid Northern China. The Eastern and Central Diversions are already functioning. The project suffers from cost over runs and environmental problems.

The problem of water issues gets compounded if it is taken in conjunction with the number of dams that China is constructing on the Yarlung Zangbo river. There have been divergent views on the dams on Brahmaputra. As per Romesh Bhattacharji, a former Indian bureaucrat “India has nothing to be worried about”. The Zangmu hydropower station is a run-of-the-river project and Brahmaputra’s waters will continue to flow to India as before. He also says, “Brahmaputra gets most of its waters after entering India.” Dr Jabin Jacob, Assistant Director of Institute of China Studies echoes his view. He says, “Brahmaputra gets most of its waters after entering India.” It is the Brahmaputra’s tributaries in India and the heavy rainfall here that provides roughly 70 percent of the water volume of the Brahmaputra River. However, some analysts warn that even though the Brahmaputra gathers the bulk of its volume in India, 30 percent of the river’s flow is a large enough component to have adverse effects and even as low as a 10 percent diversion could have serious consequences for downstream areas.

In October 2015, the Zangmu Hydroelectric Project was commissioned on the Yarlung Zangbo, which flows into India as the Siang River and then becomes the Brahmaputra. Zangmu is located approximately 250 Kms West of the Great Bend. Three more hydroelectric projects, Dagu, Jiexu and Jiacha are being constructed on the Yarlung Zangbo (Refer Map3).

map 3 - Yarlung Zangbo
Map 3.

China’s Xinhua reported on 30 September 2016 that China has blocked the Xiabuqu river, a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo, at Xigatse in the Tibetan Autonomous Region to build the Lalho hydroelectric project. (Refer Map4) This project started in June 2014 and is expected to finish in 2019. Therefore, blocking of the this river for the project is not related to the present crisis with Pakistan. On 08 October 2016, China’s Foreign Ministry assured India that this dam will have no impact on down stream flows as it can hold only 0.02% of the rivers average run off. It further said that India is monitoring the volumes of the river and is provided the hydrological data from 15 May to 15 October every year.

map 4 - Hydrological data
Map 4.

The jury is still out on whether China will divert the Brahmaputra’s water to her parched North. Even when China was constructing the Three Gorges Dam and the Qinghai – Tibet Railway doubts were being raised about the technical problems that these projects would face. Not only did she overcome the technical problems but she also finished these projects one year ahead of time. Therefore, prudence demands that we plan that China may sometime in future go for diversion of water from Brahmaputra. Water and land issues are greatly influenced by emotions. Since China is an upper riparian state, we should make constant efforts to convince China that the negative results of the water diversion projects will far outweigh the advantages. As far as the run of the river projects are concerned, since they will not materially affect the flow of water on the Brahmaputra, one need not be very vociferous about them. It goes without saying that the areas of Great Bend and the areas where the dams are coming up need to be constantly monitored. The dam on the Xiabuqu River for the Lalho Hydro Electric Project is located on a tributary that drains into Yarlung Zangbo. How much it will affect the flow of water in Brahmaputra needs to studied and should it be significant, our concerns should be discussed with China. It should be understood that the Lalho Project is in China’s territory and she has no treaty obligation with us. Reasoning with China may or may not work. But it seems to be the better choice available with India because the other path of confrontation and conflict will not be fruitful to India till at least the middle of the next decade.

As a repartee, in a bid to exploit the enormous hydropower potential of the Brahmaputra, India is also planning the construction of a number of mega dams and micro hydel projects in Arunachal Pradesh. (Refer Map 5)

map_5
Map 5.

In India also, the Interlinking of River (ILR) programme is of national importance and has been taken up on high Priority. Hon’ble Minister for Water Resources, RD & GR is monitoring the progress of ILR on weekly basis. The mission of this programme is to ensure greater equity in the distribution of water by enhancing the availability of water in drought prone and rain fed area. The National Perspective Plan (NPP) prepared by Ministry of Water Resources, has already identified 14 links under Himalayan Rivers Component and 16 links under Peninsular Rivers Component for inter basin transfer of water based on field surveys and investigation and detailed studies. Out of these, Feasibility Reports of 14 links under Peninsular Component and 2 links (Indian portion) under Himalayan Component have been prepared.

It is easily seen that countries like India and China carry out such projects based on the necessity. We need to see China’s handling of the Brahmaputra issue also in that light. There are lurking shadows in the Brahmaputra River Issue but India should be confident of herself in handling them with China.

Dam, Water

After years of hydro push, Arunachal begins scrapping dam projects

22 projects worth 3,800 MW terminated and 46 projects worth 8,000 MW had been served notices, says Chief Minister Pema Khandu

More than a decade after his father Dorjee Khandu ushered in a “dam revolution”, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu has begun scrapping hydro-power projects for non-performance.

The Chief Minister, inaugurating the State’s first community-managed mini hydroelectric project at Dikshi in West Kameng district on September 13, said his government terminated 22 projects worth 3,800 MW while another 46 projects worth 8,000 MW had been served notices.

“These projects have not progressed and people have lost confidence in them. The government is reviewing the hydro-power projects periodically and action will be taken against the power developers found non-performing,” Mr. Khandu said.

Arunachal Pradesh was among 16 States identified during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government for an ambitious plan in 2003 to make India produce 50,000 MW or hydroelectricity by 2017. This north-eastern State bordering China’s Tibet, accounting for the bulk of the proposed installed capacity was the first off the blocks for the hydro-power “gold rush”.

Agreement spree

A State hydro-power policy drawn up in 2007 saw Arunachal Pradesh sign agreements with both public sector and private sector players. Deals for 142 dams – their capacity ranging from 4.50 MW to 4,000 MW – on virtually all rivers and streams were inked by 2015.

In July 2015, former Congress Chief Minister Nabam Tuki told the State Assembly that Arunachal Pradesh received ₹1,495.6 crore as upfront money and processing fees from agreements signed with 159 companies for projects with installed capacities of 47,000 MW. The upfront money was charged per MW.

Local tribal groups and environmentalists across Arunachal Pradesh and Assam – which fears a massive downstream effect of the proposed dams – stalled most of the mega projects while a few such as the 2,000 MW Subansiri Lower being built by the NHPC has been lying incomplete since 2011.

Over the years, though, the Khandu government has been inclined towards smaller, sustainable hydroelectric projects. “It is time to change our mindset. Clean and green energy can change the economy of the State and the region,” Mr. Khandu said.

Kulsi dam

Meghalaya’s push for the Kulsi multi-purpose dam, declared a National Project, along the Assam-Meghalaya border, has unnerved the residents of 33 villages in Assam.

The project has been in limbo for almost a decade, but a consensus between the Assam and Meghalaya governments has paved the ground for a detailed project report. The dam is proposed on the Kulsi, a river where the endangered Gangetic river dolphins from the Brahmaputra breed, near Ukiam, a village about 75 km west of Guwahati.

The proposed capacity of the Kulsi project has not been specified, but it entails a 62m high concrete dam on the inter-State border. The project is estimated to cost ₹1,460 crore and would affect 15.55 sq km of land in Assam and 5.75 sq km in Meghalaya due to reservoir submergence.

“We cannot let our homes and farmlands be destroyed. The dam will be built over our dead bodies,” said J.R. Marak, the president of a committee involving all the villages.

Dam, Water

China funding NGOs against hydro projects in Arunachal Pradesh

China is trying to fund certain civil society organizations to incite protests against hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh, fear Indian government officials.

The development comes amid India’s efforts to revive work on the long-pending hydro projects, including the 2,000 megawatts (MW) Lower Subansiri and 2,880MW Dibang projects by state-run NHPC Ltd. The Centre is also trying to expedite the completion of 600MW Tawang-I and 800MW Tawang-II projects in the strategically located state.

Any delay in building hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh on rivers originating in China will affect India’s strategy of establishing its prior-use claim over the waters, according to international law. India is concerned that the hydropower projects may be affected by Beijing’s plan to divert water from rivers that flow into the Brahmaputra towards the arid zones of Xinjiang and Gansu.

“We have heard that China is trying to incite and fund some NGOs in Arunachal Pradesh against hydro power projects,” said a senior government official requesting anonymity.

Mint reported on 30 August that 103 private hydropower projects in the state with a total capacity of 35 gigawatts (GW) are still to take off despite the government’s Act East policy.

“The public meetings for consent under the Forest Rights Act haven’t been held for Tawang-I and Tawang-II as these organizations are not allowing the critical meetings to take place,” said a second person aware of the development, also seeking anonymity.

China is working on an ambitious $62-billion south-north water diversion scheme for Yarlung Tsangpo, the upper stream of the Brahmaputra river.

The Tawang Chu and Nyamjang Chu are the two main rivers in Tawang district. The Tawang Chu emerges after the confluence of Mago Chu and Nyukcharong Chu. The river system for Nyukcharong Chu originates from Tibet in the eastern Himalayas and flows in the southern direction and joins Seti Chu after 52km, according to information reviewed by Mint. The catchment area lies in the inaccessible high mountain region of the Himalayas and a major part of it is located outside the Indian territory in Tibet. About 65% of the catchment area of Stage-I lies in Tibet.The total catchment area up to the proposed barrage site of Tawang Stage-I is 2,937sq. km and of Tawang Stage-II is 3,419sq. km, according to the information.

The forest advisory committee of the ministry of environment, forest, and climate change had earlier deferred clearance to the 600MW Tawang hydroelectric project, saying that the location is a vital wintering ground for the black-necked crane, an endangered species, and other birds. The area is also home to barking deer, sambar, wild yak, serow, goral, wild boar, red panda, clouded leopard, snow leopard and musk deer. Environmentalists have repeatedly said efforts to raise the bogey of “national security” could result in irreversible environmental damage.

“India needs to take informed and democratic decisions about whatever it plans to build on rivers in Arunachal Pradesh. There is a need for thorough social, environment, and cumulative impact assessment of projects that we want to build,” said Himanshu Thakkar, co-ordinator, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People. “People’s movement in the state is so strong that any project that takes a toll on the environment would be opposed. The whole narrative that China is funding NGOs to oppose these projects is absurd,” said Thakkar.

Queries emailed on 2 September to the spokespersons of India’s ministries of power, external affairs, the Chinese embassy in New Delhi and NHPC till press time were not answered. In response to Mint’s queries, Arunachal Pradesh chief secretary, Naresh Kumar, in a message, said: “I have no information.” A Union home ministry spokesperson declined comment.

Courtesy: The Live Mint

Water

No water storage projects in Tibet, says China

China has built one and is constructing two more run-of-the-river hydro power plants on the Yarlung Zangbo River, which is known as the Brahmaputra in India, a top Chinese official told a group of visiting Indian journalists recently.

Ahead of the second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in October, China has assured India that its hydropower projects on the Brahmaputra in Tibet will neither affect nor alter the volume of water downstream in India.

Admitting to construction of three dams on the Brahmaputra which originates in the Tibet plateau, China said these projects would not change the outbound quantity or quality of water flowing downstream into India.On India’s concerns over Chinese activity on the Brahmaputra, Yu Xingjun, Consul (Director General Level), Ministry of Water Resources of China, said the scale of these projects was too small to affect water volumes.

“We have completed one hydropower station on the Yarlung Tsangpo (the common name for Brahmaputra in China) and two are in the process of completion. All the three reservoirs are of a combined capacity of 1,500 MW and all are in the mainstream area of the river. These hydropower stations are small and their scale is too insignificant to alter the outbound quantity of water,” assured Xingjun, head of the Chinese team of China-India Expert Level Mechanism (ELM) on Trans-Border Rivers which had its 12th meeting in Ahmadabad this June.Chinese officials maintained that hydropower stations were meant to address local sustainability needs.

“Water consumption rate for upstream areas of the Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet is less than one per cent. It is the right of the local people in the upstream areas to use the river to sustain their lives… the Chinese side holds a responsible attitude towards hydropower development and the development of areas adjoining the river’s course,” Xingjun said, allaying India’s fears.

India has had concerns around potential diversion of Brahmaputra waters by China which faces skewed water availability locally. 

Xingjun admitted, “Water management in China is imbalanced and requires us to divert water from the water-rich to the water-scarce areas. President Xi attaches top priority to water conservation, which is now at the heart of all our projects.”

Indian concerns are, meanwhile, rooted in possibilities of Chinese diverting the Brahmaputra waters towards arid areas which could mean bad news for India’s northeastern plains on account of reduced water flow or flooding.

Water is set to become a key area of engagement between India and China, which are engaged on the issue through the ELM set up in 2006. The UN estimates that by 2025, more than half of the world’s people would be residing in water-stressed areas, and a vast majority of these will be in India and China.


Hails Clean Ganga  We have a great impression of the Clean Ganga Plan in which the people and religious leaders are involved. It is a good example to mobilise the Chinese people to participate in the cleaning of local rivers. — Yu Xingjun, Consul, Chinese water ministry

by Aditi Tandon

Dam, Development, Water

103 private hydro projects fail to take off in Arunachal

  • Firms that won the contract to set up the projects lack the capacity to do so, says govt
  • india has installed generation capacity of 357.87GW. Of this, 45.4GW comes from hydropower projects

As many as 103 private hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh totalling about 35 gigawatts (GW) are still to take off despite the government’s Act East policy focus.

This comes against the backdrop of growing concerns on the delay in India’s plans to generate power from rivers originating from neighbouring China.

The projects that are estimated to require investments of about₹3.5 trillion were awarded to the private power producers by the Arunachal Pradesh government, said three Union government officials aware of the matter on condition of anonymity.

The state government has now approached the Centre to explore whether state-run power producers such as NHPC Ltdwould want to take over the projects, said the three people mentioned above.

The Arunachal Pradesh government has already issued termination notices to 21 such projects totalling around 2.5GW, the three people mentioned above said.

“Those projects couldn’t be constructed. The work is at a standstill on all of them,” said one of the officials. “Those projects were awarded by taking some upfront money or premiums from the private sector developers. Not one of these projects could be constructed,” said the official.

The government has been pushing an economic agenda, especially with respect to long-pending infrastructure projects, keeping in mind the geo-economics of the northeastern region. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has also substantially increased budgetary support for the region.

A delay in building hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh on rivers originating in China will affect India’s strategy of establishing its prior-use claim over the waters, according to international law. India is concerned that hydropower projects planned in Arunachal Pradesh may be affected by the neighbouring country’s plan to divert water from rivers that flow into the Brahmaputra towards the arid zones of Xinjiang and Gansu.

Arunachal Pradesh, which has the greatest hydropower potential among Indian states, awarded private companies contracts to build four hydropower projects though NHPC had prepared their detailed project reports (DPRs), Mint reported on 8 October 2012. A DPR forms the basis for implementing capital-intensive projects, which involve relocation and resettlement of project-affected persons and the ability to withstand geological surprises and also requires a substantive investment of time and money. “The private sector companies don’t have the capacity to set them up,” said another of the officials mentioned above.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India in a report, Performance Audit on Capacity Expansion in Hydro Power Sector by CPSEs (central public sector enterprises), tabled earlier in Parliament, said the power ministry should instruct state governments that allocation of projects above 100 megawatts needs to be “fair, transparent and competitive”.

“The government of Arunachal Pradesh is committed to harness in a time-bound manner, the hydro potential of Arunachal Pradesh, which is about 60% of India’s potential, in close cooperation with the government of India, including central PSUs,” said the state’s chief secretary, Naresh Kumar.

India’s north-eastern region, along with Bhutan, has a total hydropower generation potential of about 58GW. Of this, Arunachal Pradesh alone accounts for 50.32GW. India at present has an installed generation capacity of 357.87GW, of which 13% or about 45.4GW comes from hydropower projects.

“Doors are open for projects in the North-East particularly in Arunachal Pradesh. Hydropower will play an important role in the development and integration of the region with the mainland,” said Balraj Joshi, chairman and managing director of NHPC.  (The Mint) 

Flood, Water

Brahmaputra floods may have possible solution if India, China work together: Chinese MWR

Beijing [China], Aug 30 (ANI): India and China should work together to find a mechanism to control water at the upstream of river Brahmaputra basin in order to mitigate flood problems, the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources said on Thursday.

“The main reason for the flood in the Brahmaputra river is that there is no mechanism to stop water at the up-streams. It’s very challenging, but if India and China work together, possible solutions could come out.” Consultant at the Department of International Cooperation Science and Technology, Ministry of Water Resources, Yu Xingjun said in a press briefing here.

China has said that the lack of water control projects in the upstream areas leads to floods in the regions along the Brahmaputra river. As many as 12 meetings of the India-China Expert Level Mechanism (ELM) on Trans-Border Rivers have been held in this regard since 2006.

“The focus is on rationally utilising the water and protection of water resources along with ecological sustainability so that both the nation’s river water can be developed sustainably,” Xingjun added.

International, Water

No Change in India’s Position on Proposed Teesta Water-sharing Agreement: Jaishankar

After a meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said there is “no change” in India’s position on the proposed Teesta water-sharing agreement between New Delhi and Dhaka.

“We have a position. We have a commitment to that position. There is no change,” he told the media after his meeting with Momen at the state guest house Jamuna, reported Dhaka Tribune. Sharing of water of the Teesta River, which originates from Sikkim and flows through West Bengal to merge with the Brahmaputra in Assam and Jamuna in Bangladesh, is the most contentious issue between New Delhi and Dhaka. While Bangladesh has demanded 50 per cent of the river’s water supply from December to March, India has claimed a share of 55%.

POWERED BY PLAYSTREAM

Previously, the Teesta water agreement was slated to be inked between the two countries on September 6, 2011, during the visit of former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka. But the proposed deal was called off after repeated objections by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The water-sharing issue was once again discussed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka in June 2015. Modi had assured his Bangladeshi counterpart, Shiekh Hasina, that the waters of the river would be shared while looking forward to achieving a quick resolution to the issue.

Jaishnakar, who is on a three-day visit to Bangladesh, held “fruitful interaction” with Momen on a wide range of bilateral issues including Rohingyas and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s upcoming visit to New Delhi in October. The External Affairs Minister said India is looking forward to host her. Jaishankar described Bangladesh-India relations as a model for other South Asian countries.

“Speaking to the media after the bilateral discussions #JamunaGuestHouse, EAM @DrSJaishankar said that he had a fruitful interaction with Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. @AKAbdulMomen and that #India is looking forward to host Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina in #NewDelhi in October,” the Indian Embassy in Bangladesh tweeted.

While speaking on the issue of Rohingyas, Jaishankar said Bangladesh and India have agreed upon their “safe, speedy and sustainable return” to Myanmar.More than 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar’s western Rakhine state after a military crackdown that started in August last year. Many of them entered Bangladesh and are living there since then. Jaishankar is scheduled to meet Hasina. Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka, Riva Ganguly Das, will be hosting a private dinner for the minister tonight.

Dr S Jaishankar on Tuesday told Bangladesh that Assam’s citizenship register was an ‘internal matter’ for India.

The new external affairs minister was replying to questions at a joint briefing with his Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen at the state guesthouse Jamuna in Dhaka after bilateral talks on Tuesday.

Before the meeting, the foreign minister visited Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi-32 and paid tributes to Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing wreaths at his portrait there.

S Jaishankar, who arrived in Dhaka on Monday night on a three-day official visit to Bangladesh, said the two countries can take the relationship to the next level.

Rohingya repartition is in ‘national interest’

On Rohingya issue, Jaishankar said they agreed that the “safe, speedy and sustainable” return of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State is in the national interest of the three countries — Bangladesh, Myanmar and India.

We reaffirmed our readiness to provide more assistance for the displaced persons in Bangladesh and to improve the socioeconomic condition in Rakhine State, he said.

Dhaka-Delhi Working for resolve Teesta issue

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar said Bangladesh and India were working to find “mutually acceptable formulas” to share water from 54 rivers which flow through both nations while keeping India’s commitment to resolving Teesta issue unchanged.ADVERTISEMENT

We look forward to making a progress to find mutually acceptable formulas to share water from our 54 shared rivers, he told reporters adding that they are ready to make a start wherever it is possible.

Asked about long-pending Teesta water-sharing matter, Jaishankar said there has been no change regarding their commitment to resolve the issue. We have a position. You all are aware of it. We have a commitment on that position. And there’s no change in that regard.

Bangladesh-India partnership role model for the world

Jaishankar said India’s partnership with Bangladesh remains an example of what neighbours can do if they work together.

He said the Narendra Modi government is determined to ensure that this partnership is truly a role model in South Asia and for the world.

The minister said the Indian government would like to offer all possible support to realise Bangladesh’s development agenda which is in India’s interest as well.

Claiming that the ties between two nations were currently in golden age, he said India and Bangladesh will benefit mutually if the partnership grows.

Jaishankar said the two countries have a very important shared history and they look forward to sharing Bangladesh’s celebrations of birth centenary of Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence in 2021.

On trade issues, Jaishankar said they are ready to move to the next stage of economic partnership as Bangladesh’s economy develops and matures. We’ll make progress at a phase which is comfortable for Bangladesh.

On people-to-people contact, he said the largest consular operation of India is now in Bangladesh and they are very proud of that.

The foreign minister is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence on Tuesday. Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Riva Ganguly Das will host private dinner for Jaishankar. He will leave Dhaka for Kathmandu on Wednesday morning. ( India T0day/ ANI)

Dam, Water

NHPC likely to begin construction of 2 GW Lower Subansiri hydro plant in October

State-run hydro power giant NHPC is likely to begin construction of the 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri power plant in October this year as it has received the requisite approval from the Assam government, an official said. 

NHPC had inked a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Arunachal Pradesh for setting up the project in 2010. However, since the project falls in the territories of both Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, the latter’s approval was needed as well. 

“NHPC inked MoA with Assam on August 23, 2019 for Lower Subansiri project. As you know, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had given go-ahead to the project on July 31, 2019, and NHPC is expected to begin construction of the plant immediately after monsoon season is over by October this year,” the official said. 

Developers of power projects are required to sign MoAs with the respective states for setting up plants in their territories. 

The Lower Subansiri project has been stuck for the past eight years due to various issues. The run-of-the-river project on the Subansiri, a tributary of the Brahmaputra river, is mostly situated in Arunachal Pradesh. However, some parts of the submergence area fall in Assam. 

Work on the project is expected to be completed in three-and-a-half years with a total expenditure of Rs 20,000 crore (on completion). 

The official said to allay safety fears, the dam has been designed and strengthened to withstand seismic activity up to a magnitude of 8 on the Richter scale, which makes it one of the strongest dams in India. 

Work on the Subansiri project was started in 2006, but it came to a halt in 2011 due to various issues. 

In 2013, the NGT stayed any further work on the project. Thereafter, the project was examined from every angle, be it safety or environmental issues, by national and international experts.

Subansiri Lower Dam is located in India

Finally, the project got clearance from all the agencies, including the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Recently, the NGT also gave its nod for the construction of the project. 

The project is located near North Lakhimpur on the border of Aruncachal Pradesh and Assam. The estimated annual energy generation from the project is 7,421 million units in a 90 per cent dependable year. 

The project is located near North Lakhimpur on the border of Aruncachal Pradesh and Assam. The estimated annual energy generation from the project is 7,421 million units in a 90 per cent dependable year. 

Hydro power is among the cleanest sources of green power. It is essential for meeting climate commitments and ensuring grid stability in view of anticipated large scale integration of infirm .. 

integration of infirm renewable energy from sources like solar/wind. 

The hydropower sector has been going through a challenging phase. The share of hydropower in the total capacity has declined from 50.36 per cent in the 1960s to around 13 per cent in 2018-19. 

Water

Mizoram seeks Centre’s help to address water scarcity

Mizoram Chief Minister, Zoramthanga on August 22 sought the Centre’s help to solve water crisis in the state, an official statement said. 


Zoramthanga, who is now in the national capital, called on Union Water Resources Minister, Gajendra Singh Sekhawat over rain water harvesting and sufficient supply of drinking water in the state, the statement added.


Zoramthanga informed the Union Minister about the persistent water crisis in Mizoram. 


Although Mizoram receives sufficient annual rainfall, it often faces water scarcity in winter or dry season due to lack of tanks for rain water harvesting, Zoramthanga was quoted as saying in the statement.


He then urged the Union Minister to take measures to solve the scarcity.


Sekhawat on his part promised that he will look into the matter and asked the visiting Chief Minister to prepare a project for the purpose, the statement said.


The two leaders also talked about bamboo plantation to preserve and augment water sources in the state. 
Sekhawat further urged Zoramthanga to focus on ginger and turmeric.


Zoramthanga was accompanied by Mizoram Sports Minister, Robert Romawia Royte, Mizoram Chief Secretary, Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, state Planning Board Vice Chairman, H Rammawi and other officials. It may be mentioned that villages in Mizoram are generally situated on hill tops.


In most villages, water for drinking and other domestic purposes has to be collected daily from streams and other water sources.


Although Mizoram receives an annual rainfall of about 254 centimeter, people living on the hill tops usually  suffer from water scarcity as the rain water runs off quickly. (Morung Express)