New Delhi: China has not shared hydrological data that could have been helpful in dealing with floods that have inundated large parts of Assam and wreaked havoc in the state—in violation of the terms of a 2013 pact.
This comes against the backdrop of a tense military standoff between India and China in the Dokalam region of Bhutan since 16 June.
According to Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar, the last meeting of an expert-level panel set up under the provisions of a 2006 pact took place in June 2016. And the hydrological data exchanged by the two countries —between 15 May and 15 October—includes water levels, discharge and rainfall with reference to waters of the Sutlej and the Brahmaputra.
“As per my knowledge, through this period (15 May to 15 October), China has not shared any data with us," Kumar said, adding: “For this year, we haven’t received hydrological data."
Kumar was responding to questions in the context of floods in Assam—where excessive rains and landslides since July have killed 126 people and displaced some five million people, according to a Reuters news report.
China not providing hydrological data goes against its commitment under a pact which was renewed for five years in 2013, according to information on India’s water resources ministry website.
The Chinese action comes as India and China are locked in a face-off on the Dokalam plateau in Bhutan.
Tensions between the Asian giants have been high since 16 June after Bhutan objected to an attempt by Chinese troops to build a road on the Dokalam plateau. Indian troops stationed in Bhutan under a special security arrangement intervened to keep Chinese troops at bay. India says the action to construct the road is unilateral and changes the status quo. It fears the road will allow China to cut off its access to northeastern states.
China has said that talks to resolve the crisis will only take place after India withdraws its troops from Dokalam, which it claims as its Donglang region. It has accused India of trespassing into its territory. India on its part has called for a withdrawal of troops of both countries from the region.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba and “conveyed condolences at the loss of life in Nepal due to recent widespread floods, and expressed readiness to provide all possible relief assistance," a statement from the Indian foreign ministry said.