Monthly Archives

September 2019

Indigenous no-state people

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

Indigenous no-state people

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

Indigenous no-state people

Indian Army denies BJP MP’s claim that the Chinese constructed a bridge in Arunachal

The Indian Army on Wednesday issued an official statement denying the claims of BJP Arunachal MP that the Chinese Army intruded into Arunachal Pradesh’s remote Anjaw district and constructed a bridge over a stream.

In the statement, the Army said, “There has been no such incursion. The area being referred to in the media report on ‘some electronic channels’, is the area of Fish Tail. There is a differing perception of the alignment of the Line of Control, as in many other areas.”

Army sources said the exact location of the bridge hasn’t been established and a patrol will be sent out to verify the claims.

“The nallah with the name of Dimaru where the wooden bridge is claimed could not be traced,” said an army source.

BJP MP Tapir Gao claimed Chinese troops made an incursion into the Indian territory last month and built a bridge over Kiomru Nullah in Chaglagam circle.

Some local youths noticed the bridge on Tuesday. “The area is approximately 25 km northeast of Chaglagam and is very much inside the Indian territory,” Gao said.

The area identified by the BJP MP is close the disputed Fish Tail’ region in the Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh close to the Eastern most tip of the state bordering the India-China-Myanmar tri junction.

Due to the disputed boundary there have been face-offs between Indian and Chinese troops here in the past.

However, the Army said, “The terrain is thickly vegetated and all movements are undertaken on foot along the nalas and the streams.”

During monsoons whenever the nalas are in spates, temporary bridges are constructed by the patrols for their movement, the Army said.

“Being an area of differing claims, troops from either side routinely patrol the area. In addition, civilian hunters and herb collectors also frequent here during summer months,” the Army said.

The Army further emphasised, “It is reiterated that there is no permanent presence of either Chinese soldiers or civilians in the area and surveillance is maintained by our troops.”

India and China have well-established diplomatic and military mechanisms to address all issues in our border areas. The two sides agree that maintenance of peace and tranquility in all areas of India-China border areas as a prerequisite to smooth development of overall bilateral relations, the Army said.

“Both countries have also agreed to work towards a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary in question on the basis of 2005 Agreement on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles,” the Army said. ( Courtesy: India Today)

Human Rights

Allegations of Human Rights Violations in Kashmir Must be Investigated, Says UK Foreign Secy

London: The UK on Tuesday said any allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir since India revoked the Article 370 of the Constitution must be “thoroughly, promptly and transparently” investigated.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs in the House of Commons in the first parliamentary session after a long summer recess that he had raised the concerns with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a conversation on August 7 and that the UK will carefully monitor the situation in Kashmir.

“In relation to detentions, potential mistreatment and also the communications blackouts, I raised those issues with the Indian Foreign Minister. The Indian government has made clear that they are only temporaneous, as strictly required. And of course, we would want to hold them to that undertaking,” Raab said while addressing an Oral Questions session which opened with a series of questions related to the Kashmir issue.

“All and any allegations of human rights violations are deeply concerning. They must be investigated thoroughly, promptly and transparently,” he said. India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was an internal matter.

While reiterating the British stance that the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, the minister however stressed that the human rights concerns made it an international issue.

“The issue of human rights is not just a bilateral issue for India or Pakistan or a domestic issue, it is an international issue we expect internationally recognised human rights to be complied with and respected,” he said, addressing a question from Conservative Party MP Steve Baker, who represents a large Kashmiri-origin constituency of Wycombe in south-east England.

MPs from different sides of the Commons raised a series of questions over the Kashmir issue, including demanding an end to the “blockade” in the state as well as independent observers to be deployed to the region.

Conservative MP Bob Blackman spoke up in favour of the revocation of Article 370, which he categorised as discriminatory to women and minorities.

Indian-origin Tory MP Shailesh Vara raised the related violent clashes outside the Indian High Commission in London during Indian Independence Day celebrations on August 15, highlighting that members of the Indian diaspora were attacked by “another community” in a clear reference to Pakistani-origin protesters on the day.

Raab said: “…Any violence is deplorable. It shouldn’t be conducted in this country, or anywhere else for that matter, at any individual communities. What we now need to do is try and reduce those tensions but also, on a positive side, build up confidence building measures to allow proper dialogue between the communities in Kashmir and also between India and Pakistan.

“We want to see a reduction of tensions in Kashmir, respect for internationally recognised human rights and steps from all sides to rebuild confidence.”

The Indian government revoked Article 370 of the Constitution last month, withdrawing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. ​