Singapore: India on Thursday supported a regional
protocol comprising a dispute resolution mechanism for water
management in the Himalayan River Basin countries, amid
concerns over China`s dam-building activities in Tibet.
India`s views were presented by Congress MP Vijay Darda,
its delegate at a workshop here on the `Benefit of Cooperation
in the Himalayan River Basin Countries of Bangladesh, China,
India and Nepal`.
"The idea of regional protocol or convention should be
pursued. It should have dispute resolution mechanism," said
Darda, Chairman of Lokmat Group of Newspapers.
"We should take ahead the deal of political forum for
parliamentarians and other leaders," he said, underlining the
need for a joint management of Himalayan River Basin.
Concrete joint projects in hydro-electricity "should also
be explored," said Darda, adding that such joint efforts on
regional basis would bring more cooperation among the four
But on a cautious note, he expressed concern over the
rising population, growing industrialisation, expanding
agriculture and setting up of a large number of hydro-electric
"These are pushing the demands from the dwindling
resources," he told the delegates. "Protecting forest means
creating `water catchment` areas," Darda said.
He cited the example of efforts being made at ground
level, such as Lokmat Newspapers` planting of 100,000 trees in
"The socio-economic importance of water could be well
visualised by the growth of Indus Valley Civilisation or
Ganga-Yamuna river flow supporting a sustainable economy along
river banks," he said.
Darda also wanted the technology to be harnessed. "Time
has come to harness the technology to liberate the farmer from
the clutches of the uncertainties of monsoon," he said.
Besides, he called for promotion of inter-disciplinary
research. "Along with that, we should use our educational
institutions to build awareness," he said.
Among other Indian speakers was former Union Minister of
State for Agricultural and Water, Shri Sompal, who also
highlighted the ongoing concern about food security,
especially due to the reduced supply of water.
"Cooperation has always been helpful for social and
economic benefits," stressed Abhijit Ghorpade, Assistant
Editor of Loksatta of the Indian Express group.
On China, the Bangladeshi delegate at the conference said
that lack of information from Beijing is a major issue faced
by managing water resources in the Himalayan River Basin.
Information is not forthcoming, especially as to what
are China`s plans for rivers that flow through to the South
Asian countries especially Nepal, India and Bangladesh, said
Bangladesh`s former Water Resources Minister Hafiz Uddin
There is no political will either because there is
no political pressure on managing the water resources, he told
Ahmad expressed concerns over reports that China was
building a dam on Brahmaputra River, which could cut the
flow of water to Nepal, India and Bangladesh and impact the
lives of their people.
"We are getting very little information from China
on its managing of the water resources in the upper parts of
the rivers," he said, pointing out that Bangladesh would be
among the worst hit.
He also sought establishment of a parliamentary committee
on regional water resource management.
India has said that it was "alert" to reports of China
damming cross-border rivers and has sought assurances from
Beijing that it will take no action to negatively affect the
flow of the rivers into India.
The Singapore workshop organised by the Rajaratnam School
of International Studies was the third meeting of experts from
the four countries. The first meeting was held in Kathmandu in
August last year while the second took place in Dhaka in
January this year.