Asia’s ‘Water War’ Inches Closer? Arunachal Student Body Alleges Chinese Constructions Are Behind Siang River’s ‘Unnatural Behaviour’

Asia’s ‘Water War’ Inches Closer? Arunachal Student Body Alleges Chinese Constructions Are Behind Siang River’s ‘Unnatural Behaviour’Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi with Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval for Special Representatives talks for boundary issue at Hyderabad House on March 23, 2015 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

A student body of Arunachal Pradesh has told The Hindu that it found around 100 barrels floating down the Siang river. The barrels had Chinese writings over them and may have fallen in to the river due to a landslide that occurred in Tibet.

All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) said, “the barrels containing isocyanate — a toxic chemical — and suspected explosive material could mean that Chinese agencies were carrying out construction activities along or on the Tsangpo.”

On the other hand, the bureaucracy of the bordering three districts - East Siang, Siang and Upper Siang, denied that there was any evidence of the presence of explosive material down the Tibetan region. “Since we could not retrieve and study the barrels, it will not be right to conclude negatively,” said Siang DM, Rajeev Takuk.

It was reported in January that China was carrying out construction activity in the region. The New Indian Express noted that Siang’s “unnatural behaviour” with sudden drying-up periods followed by extensive water levels made the locals suspect that the Chinese were carrying out constructions in the upstream.

It is suspected that the upper riparian country is carrying out dam constructions at a fast pace in order to fulfil the needs of its water-starved northern region. This may cause severe changes in the rivers like Brahmaputra, wreaking havoc on the people of North-eastern region in India.

AAPSU has launched an agitation demanding a water treaty with China. The district units of the student body staged a demonstration on Wednesday (24 October) besides submitting a memorandum to Home Minister.

“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,” AAPSU general secretary Tobom Dai said.