Guwahati: At least 100 Chinese inscribed barrels with an indication of explosive chemical content floated down the Siang river after a landslide-induced barrier upstream in Tibet gave way on October 19, an apex students’ body of Arunachal Pradesh said.
The barrels which contained isocyanate — a toxic chemical — and suspected explosive material could mean that Chinese agencies were carrying out construction activities along or on the Tsangpo (the Chinese call it Yaluzangbu), the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union ( AAPSU) said. The Tsangpo flows into Arunachal Pradesh as the Siang, which meets two other rivers to form the Brahmaputra in Assam downstream.
According to the Administrative heads of the state’s three districts — East Siang, Siang, and Upper Siang — said some local people fished out a few blue cylinders that looked like cooking fuel but there was no evidence of chemical or explosive material having flowed down from the Tibetan region.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday the district units of the AAPSU staged a demonstration. The premier student organisation of the state also submitted a memorandum to Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking a formal water treaty with Beijing toward a solution to the Siang river crisis.
NGOs and riverbank dwellers put the entire blame on the construction of dams and alleged Chinese plans to divert the water of the Tsangpo to parched areas of Xinjiang for the Siang river drying up and flowing with a very high tide in quick succession. The river also turns turbid periodically.
“The frequent change in the river’s character has been pronounced in the last 18 months. It is time for New Delhi to be assertive and push for a water treaty with Beijing or all other rivers flowing down into India from Tibet will face the same fate as the Siang
Raising concern over the incident, AAPSU general secretary Tobom Dai claims, “The explosives containing barrels found floating on the Siang were an indication of heavy construction activities across the border that is being played down by New Delhi.
Deputy commissioner of East Siang’s Tamiyo Tatak, said,” metallic and plastic material did flow down from the upper reaches of the Siang on October 19, but officials could not ascertain what they were. “We saw some 50-odd containers that drifted away to Assam”.
Tatak counterpart in Siang district to the north, Rajeev Takuk, said that his officials spotted a few bluish drums floating down a couple of hours after the surge of water entered his district around 4 am at a point where a Bailey bridge connects his district and Upper Siang bordering China.
“I am not sure how some people found out they contained explosives or chemicals. The barrels looked more like fuel containers. We cannot come out with conspiracy theories on the basis of some drums that we could not retrieve and study,” he told.