PM seeks joint mechanism with China on Chinese dams on Brahmaputra

On Board PM's Aircraft: Notwithstanding pledges to take the bilateral relationship to a new level, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his first meeting with new Chinese President Xi Jinping has sought a joint mechanism to assess the construction work on dams on Brahmaputra river in Tibet.

"I took the opportunity to raise the issue of trans-border river systems. I requested the Chinese government to provide a joint mechanism to enable us to assess the type of construction activity that is going on in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR)," he told reporters accompanying him on his return on Thursday from a four-day visit to Durban in South Africa.

He was asked about the discussion on the water issue he had with Xi in Durban last night on the margins of the BRICS summit in the first-high level face-to-face contact between the two countries after the change of power in China.

President Xi assured him that China was quite conscious of their responsibilities and the interest of the lower riparian countries, the Prime Minister said.

As regards the specific mechanism that he had asked, the Chinese President told him that they would further look into it.

The Prime Minister taking up the construction work in the Tibetan region assumes significance in the context of the Chinese proposal to build three dams on Brahmaputra which has raised concerns in India.

Officials have earlier talked about a joint mechanism but this may probably the first time the Prime Minister has spoken about it and that too at the highest level.

"But as of now, our assessment is that whatever activity that is taking place on the Brahmaputra region in Tibet, it is essentially a run-of-the-river projects and therefore there is no cause of worry on our part," Singh said.

On his meeting with Xi, the Prime Minister said it was the first meeting between them and both agreed that they would continue to maintain the strong tradition of frequent high-level exchanges between the two countries to strengthen the ties.