China has finally appointed a senior official to interact with Indian diplomats on water related issues after the government's persistent efforts to activate the joint mechanism that was set up after Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit New Delhi in November last year.
Water resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, who visited China last week, said the move holds significance as it will help in the exchange of vital information particularly on the rivers flowing from China into India.
As a follow up of his bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Chen Li, the latter nominated one of his senior officials for communicating with the Indian officials on the water related issues.
China is building a large hydro power station on the upper reaches of Yarlung Zango (Brahamputra) river and a barrage on Sutlej, which was first reported by the Hindustan Times in June last year.
It had evoked serious concern in New Delhi fearing that change in the flow of rivers from China could harm interests in the lower riparian regions of India.
Admitting that the joint mechanism had not been “very active” so far, Soz told Hindusan Times that in the face of the latest development, he was confident of a breakthrough with Beijing on the water sector.
During his meeting with Li, he praised China for timely convening the ‘Asian region dialogue on water and sanitation’ which was attended by him also during his visit.
Significantly, Soz also sought an early meeting of the bilateral expert level joint mechanism to address the long pending issues and also explore new areas of cooperation in the field of hydrology. The Chinese water resources minister will soon visit India for further discussion on the water related issues, Soz said.