GUWAHATI: The Assam government has pressed the panic button after reports of China building a weather modification system surfaced on Monday. The system, reportedly being introduced to bring substantially more rain to the Tibetan plateau - source of the Brahmaputra river, has triggered fears of more devastating floods in the downstream areas of the riparian state.
Every year, floods caused by the Brahmaputra river and its tributaries in Assam kill hundreds of people in the state, destroy houses and farm lands. More rain at the source of the Brahmaputra would mean an even greater degree of devastation.
State finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said the riparian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are suffering because of China's "mindless interference" with the natural ecosystem in the Tibetan plateau. "Now, reports of this new system have come as a shocker. China is already giving us so much trouble and we are witnessing floods every year. If this new system is introduced, there will surely be huge ramifications. I will request the MHA to look into the matter and coordinate with Chinese authorities. The Centre should ask China not to interfere with the natural ecosystem in the Tibetan plateau," he added.
A report in the 'South China Morning Post' had on Monday said, "The system, which involves an enormous network of fuel-burning chambers installed high up on the Tibetan mountains, could increase rainfall in the region by up to 10 billion cubic metres a year - about 7% of China's total water consumption."
China to resume sharing of Brahmaputra data
Describing it as the "biggest such project", the report added that tens of thousands of chambers would be built across the Tibetan plateau, producing rainfall over an area of about 1.6 million sq km, "three times the size of Spain".
After the Doklam stand-off last year, China had stopped sharing hydrological data of the Brahmaputra with India and there was no way to get advance warning for the incoming wave of floods from across the border. On Wednesday, however, China agreed to resume the data sharing after deliberations at the 11th meeting of the India-China Expert Level Mechanism on trans-border rivers held in Hangzhou in China.
Sarma, who had earlier raised the issue of China stopping the sharing of hydrological data of the Brahmaputra with India, said, "At some point, the Centre will have to approach the UN or an international agency for a joint inspection of the kind of interference by China. You never know what more the Chinese are doing or have already done."