India downplays Chinese activity on the Brahmaputra

New Delhi: India's famed resolve to stand up to the Chinese, which in popular perception lasts all of 48 hours at the most, is once again in evidence with water resources minister PK Bansal stepping up to the podium to downplay the issue of China building a dam on the Upper Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsangpo) river in Tibet. Bansal makes the amazing assertion that the issue does not matter as the construction site is 1100 km away from the country's boundary.

"The point where they were making a dam is 1100 kilometres away from our boundary. It's a small dam and no reservoir as such. They already have such 15 dams there which they are using for local purposes," water resources minister PK Bansal said here.

Yarlung Tsangpo
Yarlung Tsangpo river in Tibet
It's anybody's guess how the distance of a dam from a country's boundary is relevant to the damming of a river's waters?  And, the fact that the Chinese already have 15 such dams on the Upper Brahmaputra is a fresh revelation.

"For their run of the river, we have no right. Our concern should be that there is no diversion in existing flow of the 79 BCM water from the river into India. There is no evidence for any such diversion so far," Bansal said.

The qualified assertion that there was no evidence of Chinese diversion of water ''so far'' does not rule out such an occurrence in the future. As with all issues Sino-Indian, this matter too now lands up on the shelf to gather dust.

China's run over the river and its amazing capability to determine a mute response from Indian policy makers to all Sino-Indian issues continues unabated.