China proposes to build dam over Siang River in Tibet, govt aware of threat: Arunachal CM
Itanagar, Sep 7 (IANS) Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu said on Thursday that China is proposing to construct a 60,000 MW dam over Siang River in Tibet just before it enters India (Arunachal), asserting that both the Centre and the state government are privy to the development and the possible threat arising out of it.
China’s proposed dam construction and its possible threat were also discussed in the Arunachal Assembly on Wednesday.
Addressing the opening day function of the three-day Banggo Solung celebrations at Mebo in East Siang district, the Chief Minister said that while the Central government is responding to the development at its level, the concern of the state government is to save Siang River at all cost and also to keep its flow under control.
It is to mentioned here that the Tsangpo River flows through Tibet before entering Arunachal Pradesh where it is called the Siang River. It becomes the Brahmaputra in Assam and the Jamuna in Bangladesh before it empties into the Bay of Bengal.
“History is witness that we cannot trust our ‘neighbour’. You never know what they can do. They can either divert the entire river flow, drying up our Siang, or release water at once causing unprecedented flood havoc downstream,” he said.
The Chief Minister said that the only solution to these threats is to construct a barrage on the Siang River by India.
“While this barrage will save water from the tributaries within Arunachal Pradesh to maintain the natural flow of the Siang River, it will also protect our land from flash floods. Hydropower generation is our secondary objective,” he said.
Khandu, however, passed the onus on the local Adi society whether to build the barrage.
He said that 30-40 years down the line, people shouldn’t blame the leadership for not doing anything while China was building the mega dam.
Meanwhile, hailing the Adis for taking pride in their rich culture, Khandu reiterated his stand for passing on the heritage to the next generation without dilution.
He urged the elders to encourage the young ones to participate in traditional practices and learn to speak their native languages.
“Without our identity, we will be lost in the vast majority of people who have long lost their indigeneity,” Khandu added.
Acknowledging the recurring land erosion by Siang River every monsoon in the Mebo area of East Siang district as a major cause of concern, the Chief Minister said that construction of a barrage on the river is the only viable option to tame its course and flow.
Khandu counted the massive losses caused by flooding waters of Siang River along the left bank in the plains of Mebo area.
“A couple of years ago, the all-important Mebo-Dhola road was breached. We constructed an alternate road, which too was eroded the next year. We then spent about Rs 35 crore through the Department of Water Resources to construct flood protection structures.
“But these too got eroded. The famous Daying Ering Wildlife Sanctuary on the right bank is also shrinking due to soil erosion. We need to find a long-term solution to the problem,” he said.
Khandu admitted that safeguarding a 23-km long bank is not an easy task, but the governments, both at the state and Centre, are committed to make life easy for the 10-plus villages that bear the brunt of Siang River every monsoon.
He also informed that the Central government has asked the state government to submit a comprehensive plan for the protection of both left and right banks as a single project.