Hit by massive flooding of the Brahmaputra river, the Assam government on Wednesday said it has urged the Centre to take up with China at the diplomatic level the issue of sharing hydrological data with India.
Assam minister and government spokesperson Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday expressed concern at the revelation by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) last week that China has not shared hydrological data with India from May 15 this year.
He said the issue assumes significance due to the fact that the magnitude of the third wave of floods in Assam which hit the state after August 8 does not correlate with the amount of rainfall Assam and other Northeast states have received during that period.
“We have already urged the Central government to take up the matter with China in this regard. The hydrological data is the riparian right of India and Bangladesh, and we must have data on how much water they have released from the dams upstream and all the other relevant details,” said Sarma while addressing a press conference on Wednesday.
He said that under the India-China Expert-Level Mechanism which was started in 2006, China is supposed to share hydrological data during the flood season for Brahmaputra and Satluj rivers between May 15 to October 15 every year. There is also a memorandum signed between the two countries in 2013 that agrees to share 15 hydrological data between the period.
“However, China had not shared any data from May 15 this year,” Sarma said while quoting a recent press briefing by the MEA in New Delhi.
“The third wave of flood has wracked havoc in Assam submerging 24 districts also affecting over 3.2 million people. Over 70 people have died due to flood related incidents. However, there had not been any unnatural amount of rainfall in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh during that period. From where did the flood water come?” he said.
He said the hydrological data from China is required basically for early warning system so that states can handle flood related incidents and prepare for it. “If there is heavy rainfall in upper reaches of Brahmaputra it takes about three to four days time for the water to reach Assam. If we have the hydrological data, we could prepare better to handle the situation,” he said.
Sarma, who is also the finance, education and health minister of Assam, urged the people of the state to create an awareness movement about the issue so that the Chinese government could be pressurized through the government of Assam.