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Assam floods: China didn't share Brahmaputra hydrological data, says India

MEA said it would be premature to connect China not sharing data this year with Doklam stand-off

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Villagers along with their cattle commute by a boat at a flood-hit village in Morigaon district of Assam. Photo: PTI
Villagers along with their cattle commute by a boat at a flood-hit village in Morigaon district of Assam. Photo: PTI

With over three million people affected across 24 districts of Assam because of floods, which has left over 130-people dead, New Delhi on Friday said China has not shared with India during the current season. Under a 2006 agreement, China shares hydrological data, from May 15 to October 15, for and Sutlej rivers every year.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), however, said it would be "premature" at the current juncture to connect China not sharing as a fallout of New Delhi and Beijing's military stand-off in The agreement was signed in 2006. The last meeting on the issue between the two sides was in June 2016. MoUs (Memorandums of Understanding) were also signed in 2013 and 2015.

"China has to share the data periodically, even daily during the flooding period. But no data has been shared by the Chinese side this year," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. He said data has not been shared could be to do with "technical issues", and that it would be "premature" and "not reasonable" to link the development to any other issue.

The flooding in Brahmaputra, which originates in China and Beijing as the upper riparian state needs to share with India, has wreaked some of the worst damage of the last few decades.

India on Friday also said it will continue to engage with China to find a mutually acceptable solution to the stand-off, and said peace and tranquility on the border is an important pre-requisite for smooth bilateral relationship.

Assam floods: China didn't share Brahmaputra hydrological data, says India
On the incident between Chinese troops and Indian border guards in Ladakh on August 15, the MEA spokesperson said, he can "confirm" that there was an incident at the Pangong lake. He said the incident was discussed between the local military commanders on either side. "Such incidents are not in the interest of either side," the spokesperson said.

Kumar said two border personnel meetings (BPMs) had taken place between Indian border guards and Chinese troops recently. He said one BPM had taken place at Chushul on August 16 and another one at Nathu La a week before. The MEA spokesperson also said the incident on the Independence Day at the scenic Pangong lake "should not be linked to something that is happening elsewhere".

To questions whether New Delhi had any official reaction to Xinhua, China's official news agency, putting out a video that ridicules Indians and accuses India of committing "seven sins" in the two-month long stand-off, the MEA spokesperson's response indicated that South Block shared the indignation felt by people in India at large. "I do not want to dignify the video with a comment," Kumar said.

Assam floods: China didn't share Brahmaputra hydrological data, says India
The three-minute video mocks India and Indians, and is embellished with poorly spelt subtitles and racial stereotypes. The video features anchor Dier Wang accusing India of "sins" that include "trespassing, confusing right and wrong, putting the blame on the victim, hijacking a small neighbour and sticking to a mistake knowingly".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also slated to visit China to attend the BRICS Summit in the first week of September. On whether there could be resolution to stand-off in the coming days, the spokesperson said it was a "very difficult question". "I need to be an astrologer to answer this question. Since I am not an astrologer, I shall let it pass," he said.

The MEA said it cannot share details on the number of countries that have backed Indian stand on the issue. Kumar said the MEA has seen the interview of the Japanese Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu, where the envoy said that no country should use unilateral force to alter the status of the region, which is under Chinese control but claimed by Bhutan. "We have seen the interview. It speaks for itself," the MEA spokesperson said.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying dismissed Hiramatsu's statement as uninformed. "I have seen that the Japanese ambassador to India really wants to support India (on the military standoff.) And I want to remind him not to randomly make comments before clarifying relevant facts," Hua told a regular news briefing.

The MEA spokesperson said Vietnamese government has rejected recent reports of Hanoi having received Brahmos missiles from India.

First Published: Sat, August 19 2017. 00:40 IST