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Contamination of Siang river in Arunachal raised in Sushma’s talks with China counterpart: MEA

MEA spokesperson rejects suggestions that there were heated exchanges during the meeting between the foreign ministers of India and China

india Updated: Dec 14, 2017 20:25 IST
Villagers collect drinking water from the dried bed of Siang River at Berasapori village some 560 kms from Guwahati.
Villagers collect drinking water from the dried bed of Siang River at Berasapori village some 560 kms from Guwahati. (AFP File Photo)

New Delhi

India on Thursday expressed “concern” over the contamination of the Siang river in Arunachal Pradesh and said it has ascertained certain facts on the issue, which figured during the meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi here.

External Affairs Minister Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also said the ministry was coordinating with the water resources ministry while referring to existing mechanisms between India and China to deal with issues pertaining to waters.

“Naturally, it is a matter of concern to us. We are coordinating with water resources ministry. We have ascertained certain facts,” Kumar said.

He was asked about the Siang river water “unfit” for human consumption, amid speculation that the water was contaminated due to China. The Siang river, which flows as Yarlung Tsangpo from southern Tibet, becomes the Brahmaputra river in Assam.

Last week, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu had expressed concern over the high content of Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU) in the Siang in the state and said his government was in constant touch with the Centre so that New Delhi could take up the issue with China.

Kumar also said the issue had come up during the meeting between Swaraj and Wang. However, he did not elaborate.

The spokesperson also rejected suggestions that there were heated exchanges during the meeting between the foreign ministers of India and China. Swaraj and Wang met on December 11 on the sidelines of Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting.

“All issues were discussed but not in a manner it was projected,” he said while reacting to media reports carrying Wang’s remarks.

According to the Chinese foreign ministry, Wang had told Swaraj that “although the standoff ended eventually through diplomatic means more than two months later, lessons must be learned and efforts must be made to avoid such an incident in the future. The standoff put the bilateral relations under severe pressure.”

The ministry had issued a statement regarding the issues discussed in the meeting that included the Doklam episode.

Both the external affairs minister and the Chinese foreign minister noted the challenge it (Doklam) had posed to the relationship and expressed satisfaction that it was resolved with the disengagement of troops at the face-off site through concerted diplomatic communications, the MEA statement had said.

Chinese and Indian troops were locked in a 73-day border standoff from June 16 when Indian soldiers stopped Chinese personnel from building a key road close to India’s ‘chicken’s neck’ corridor.

On August 28, India announced the “disengagement” between the soldiers of the two countries.

The road was being built by China in an area also claimed by Bhutan.