The fact that China is contemplating on building three more dams at Dag, Jiacha and Jiexu on the Brahmaputra is just a clear reflection of the far–sightedness of China. China has realized very well that water is a resource that will one day become scarce and therefore these are steps actually to preserve it. While remaining on the safe side and taking adequate precautionary measures for the future is welcome, the fact remains that while initiating such measures, especially when somebody else’s concern is also involved, it is desirable that the needs of the other side too are taken care of. China, unfortunately, has failed to take due note of this while proposing to construct three more dams over the Brahmaputra river in addition to the already built one. It has failed or, to say, grossly overlooked the implications that such upstream dams might have on the lower riparian States, especially in India.
This of course is not a single instance of discourtesy that it has shown towards its neighbour— India. China has for long embarked on an expansionist mode. It has already unduly encroached upon Tibet. China has always tried to claim Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory. In fact to gain an advantage over India when it comes to Arunachal Pradesh, China has already constructed several sophisticated airports on the opposite side. However, the Indian side has already conveniently overlooked such sinister designs by China. Even this time what has India done? It has not done anything remarkable except issuing some statements urging China to be careful about the implications such dams might have on India. Last Saturday, as reported by the IANS and carried by this newspaper, External Affairs Minister Salman Khursid informed reporters that the Ministry of Water Resources has indicated that the proposed dams are run–of–the–river dams which will not affect India. He further indicated that India is contemplating on having an expert opinion on the implication of such dam constructions.
What do these statements from the Indian side indicate? It indicates that the Indian side is a bit unwilling to earn the wrath of its Chinese counterparts by picking up such inconvenient issues. It also indicates that the proposed seeking of expert opinion is just a ploy to buy time only to pale into insignificance when the issue will fade from the short–lived public memory. At this juncture, a normal response from India would have been thus: the dams are constructed on international rivers. While constructing dams on such rivers, it is imperative that the concerns of the neighbouring countries— regardless of being genuine or unfounded— should be addressed. This should have been India’s message to China. India should have told China that it cannot construct a dam without taking India’s consent and if the need arises, India would approach the United Nations regarding this. Sadly, India failed to display this much–needed valour.