Union flays Centre’s silence on mechanism to tackle ‘fluctuating’ Siang
GUWAHATI, October 24: The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union has launched its first phase of agitation to push for a water treaty with China to tackle the fluctuating levels of the Siang River which has been causing havoc in the border state.
Members of the students’ union along with three federal units based at Pasighat in Siang valley – All Upper Siang District Students’ Union, All Siang District Students’ Union, and All East Siang District Students’ Union – staged a two-hour protest rally-cum-dharna on Wednesday to press for a strong mechanism to control the phenomenon.
The inundation caused by flashfloods triggered by the rising Siang has affected several areas of the state since decades. The recent drying up of the river and an unprecedented surge the next day has also raised concerns among circles about activities going on across the border, with several farmers bearing the brunt.
“The problem of fluctuating water levels in the Siang has been recurring in the past one and half years. However, the central government has remained silent on our demand for a water treaty with China, which is a legitimate demand and the only way forward,” AAPSU general secretary, Tobom Dai told The Shillong Times on Wednesday.
Of late, several floating barrels bearing Chinese alphabet insignia of isocyanate, an explosive mainly used in heavy construction sites, were noticed in the river.
Originating in Tibet where it is known as Yarlung Tsangpo, the Brahmaputra flows down to Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in the lower riparian spread across a drainage area of 712,035 sq km area.
The students union also rued the fact that despite a request by chief minister Pema Khandu to Union home minister, Rajnath Singh last month, the proposed visit of an inter-ministerial team to the flood-affected areas of the state was yet to see the light of day.
“This was our first phase of agitation and in the subsequent days we will decide on the course of action to press for a water treaty with the neighbouring country,” Dai said.
Both China and India are water scarce countries which face significant challenges to food and water security in future. As lower riparians, India and Bangladesh hinge on the Brahmaputra for water, agriculture and livelihoods with upper riparian, China enjoying a strategic edge over the river’s flow.
Construction of dams on the river in China and diversion plans are a source of tension between the two powerful Asian nations and therefore a treaty is imperative for greater cooperation including data and water sharing. (Courtesy: TST)