China projects not to affect Brahmaputra’s flow: Rawat

New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) China has assured India that it will not take any step which affects the downstream flow in Brahmaputra, Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat said here Friday, noting that the neighbouring country had planned only run-of-river projects.

Rawat, who was addressing media in connection with the India Water Week to be held here April 8-12, said the issue of dam construction by China over Brahamputra had been discussed at the highest level with the Chinese government.

“There is no need to be panicky. Whatever construction, it is small run-of-river projects,” Rawat said, adding such construction will hardly affect the flow in Brahmaputra.

The minister said China had assured India that it will take “no such step” which impacts the river’s downstream flow.

China had unveiled plans for construction of three new hydropower dams on the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra river in January this year. The three new dams were approved by its state council under a new energy development plan for 2015.

Rawat said President Pranab Mukherjee will inaugurate the second edition of India Water Week April 8 on the theme of efficient water management. The president will also launch the new National Water Policy, he added.

The minister said the event will see participation of nearly 1,760 individuals and organisations from over 64 countries. Over 200 papers will be presented during the conference and an exhibition will also be held.

Answering queries, Rawat said his ministry had studied suggestions of standing committee on the dam safety bill and sent the legislation to the law ministry for its view.

He also said the government was concerned about the drought situation in Maharashtra and had released Rs.1,000 crore for water projects in the state.

He said the government was paying attention to the cleanliness of Yamuna and had agreed to construct a canal parallel to the river which will not allow any sewage to flow into it.

The minister said a meeting of the Yamuna Water Board will be called soon.

He said the government wanted to raise the storage capacity in reservoirs from about 250 billion cubic metre at present to 450 bcm by 2050.

Rawat said the ground water situation was critical in nearly 800 blocks in over six states.

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