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Section : Economics

Great Chinese diversion of Brahmputra
Unfortunately, in spite of experts recommending the construction of a high dam across the Siang (or Brahmaputra) downstream to contain the impact of Chinese projects on our habitats and our development schemes, Indian authorities have been going slow on implementing this project.

By Indian Express

IIT Kharagpur, IIT farmers Around 10 kms away from the campus, the team adopted 14 acres of land from a group of farmers at Khentia village.
By: Press Trust of India | Khentia | Updated: April 22, 2015 12:44 pm

A group of researchers at IIT Kharagpur have turned farmlands near the campus into a ‘laboratory’ to experiment with new agricultural technologies and help farmers whose land they have “adopted” to improve their yield.

Around 10 kilometres away from the campus, the team adopted 14 acres of land from a group of farmers at Khentia village.

Most of the land, in small fragments, was lying barren for the last few years. With hope in their eyes, the farmers agreed to turn in their farmlands to the IIT team.

The work began last November with tilling, ploughing and levelling of the fragmented plot to make it a single unit. “We are introducing new technologies like SRI to increase rice yield with less water. To promote crop diversification, cash crop like sweet corn, peanut and soybean
have been introduced,” project in-charge Prof P B S Bhadoria said.

To encourage organic farming, they have started creating vermicompost units. The IIT team has dug up a tubewell and also made a pond for rainwater harvesting and pisciculture. 48-year-old Jagannath Das, who owns less than 20 decimal land, says he is now learning new things about growing crops.

“We allowed them to take charge of our land because of the trust we have on such a large institution like IIT. Now we are learning new things as if our farmland has become a classroom,” Das said.

Youngster Abhishek Singhania, who studied metallurgy from IIT Madras and was working with the multinational PricewaterhouseCoopers, left his job in Saudi Arabia to join this ‘green revolution’ last month.

“After learning about the pathetic condition of our farmers I decided to help them by joining this project. My role is to convince farmers to adopt new technology,” he said.

Once the harvesting is done next month, he will help the farmers get good prices for their produce, lest they fell into the trap of middlemen.

“They need the right people to guide them at every stage of farming and marketing. I am trying to make this model a sustainable one so that once we leave they are able to do everything on their own,” Singhania says.

Project officer and agriculture expert Tanumoy Bera said they are using sustainable technology for optimum utilisation of resources and minimum effect on the environment.

SRI (System of Rice Intensification) needs 30-40 per cent less water and pesticides but gives a higher yield. Enthused by the success of the project, other farmers near the project area are also taking notes and have even approached the IIT to replicate the model.

“We would be seeking funds from the industry and other organisations to adopt more villages for demonstration of technology for a smaller period of one year,” Bhadoria says.

Khentia village, where the project would go on for a period of three years, would be developed as a model village under ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyan’.

In the next phase, they would introduce censor-based irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, soil testing kits, etc. “The share of the produce would be shared among the farmers in the proportion of their land holding,” he says.

- See more at:


India China, china water project, china yellow river project, china water diversion project, River Brahmaputra, Brahmaputra waters, China  South-North Diversion project, China, , indian express column, ie column,M.S. Menon column India must be prepared to deal with China’s plans to divert Brahmaputra waters.
Published on:April 21, 2015 12:14 am

Recently, China announced the opening of the “central route” of the South-North Water Diversion Project, which is to transfer water from the Yellow River to the country’s arid north. The project, costing $33 billion, is supposed to carry 9.5 billion cubic metres of water (BCM) annually to meet the demands of Beijing and other areas. The “eastern route” of the project was opened last year to transport water north from the Yangtze River to Shandong province. According to Chinese officials, the entire project, which is slated to have three routes, namely, the eastern, central and western, would be able to address the chronic water shortage in the northern states.

China has uneven spatial distribution of water. As a result, for decades, the country has grappled with water and power shortages. During the 1970s, a Chinese general, Guo Kai, is even reported to have proposed that 200 nuclear warheads be launched at the Himalayas to blast a two kilometre-wide air tunnel that would divert the Indian monsoon and meet China’s water needs. Subsequently, he had even toyed with the idea of using Tibet’s waters, particularly from the Brahmaputra. The plan was to divert water from the “Great Bend” of the river.
With its burgeoning population, increased industrial development, higher demand from agriculture and pollution in the rivers aggravating its woes, the country turned its attention to exploiting the huge potential of the water-rich Tibetan region to overcome the looming crisis.

The proposal to divert waters from the south to the dry north was borne out of these compulsions and studies that grew out of them.

Of the three links envisaged by the the South-North Water Diversion Project, the central and eastern routes have already started functioning. At the moment, China is contemplating taking up the western route. This last route is a modified version of Guo’s dream project, which involved the construction of a mega structure at the Great Bend and a tunnel through the Himalayas to divert water and generate power, which could also be used to pump water. In 2003, the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, had detailed plans for the Tsangpo (which is the Brahmaputra in Tibet) Water Diversion Project. These plans had two components — first, a power plant with an installed capacity of more than 40,000 MW in the Medok area of the Nyingchi Prefecture to use the potential of the river at the Great Bend, where it takes a sharp u-turn before entering India, and second, diversion of water to the provinces of Xingjiang and Gansu.

Also, according to recent reports, China has constructed a highway, stretching 141 kilometres and linking Bome to Medok city, to facilitate the movement of heavy construction machinery and materials. It has also completed an airstrip in this prefecture, at an altitude of 2,949 metres. Though China has denied, all along, any plans for the diversion of the Brahmaputra, the fact that the South-North Diversion Project is slated to ultimately have three routes, with a total estimated cost of $81 billion, is indicative of the Chinese intention to take up the western route next. The State Grid Corporation of China’s map for 2020 also shows the Great Bend area connected to the rest of the country’s power supply.

Though our neighbour had been assuring us that its projects will not have any impact on Indian projects downstream, we should not rest easy with these assurances. India has to act fast to ensure that its riparian rights and other interests are protected.

Unfortunately, in spite of experts recommending the construction of a high dam across the Siang (or Brahmaputra) downstream to contain the impact of Chinese projects on our habitats and our development schemes, Indian authorities have been going slow on implementing this project. They cite the objections raised by a new breed of activists and environmental groups, which wage a relentless war against the project to protect their interests. But we should not lose sight of the strategic importance and disaster mitigation aspects of the Siang project just to appease these groups. We have to complete the project on a war footing in order to be prepared to meet any situation that arises from China’s plan to divert the Brahmaputra.

The writer is former member secretary, Indian National Committee on Irrigation and Drainage

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