29th Oct 2021 11:10:PM Editorials
Eastern Sentinel Arunachal News

The murky cement-like waters of the otherwise clear Kameng River hogged the headlines in the state early Friday morning. There was commotion as large numbers of dead fish washed up to its shores prompting the East Kameng administration to issue an advisory to avoid venturing into the river plus asking people to desist from selling or consuming the dead fish which have died of 'unknown causes'.

Authorities have clarified that high Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in the river on Friday resulted in its turbidity and the low oxygen led to the massive death of fishes.

The 264kms long Kameng River originates in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh from the glacial lake below the snow-capped Gorichen mountain range along the India-Tibet border. One of the major rivers of the state, it passes through several districts with a couple of them deriving their names after it.

The sudden change in the river's water has resulted in many theories among the masses. Although one can't say for sure what caused it but given China's aggressive activities upstream, the concerns are justified.

A few years back, the Siang river baffled many with its unseasonal turbidity. The suspiciously muddy nature of the water had raised concern that China might be constructing infrastructure to divert its waters as reported earlier, which it denied.

Recent reports suggested that China is constructing a 1,000km long tunnel—the world’s longest—to divert water from the Brahmaputra river in Tibet close to Arunachal Pradesh to the parched Xinjiang region.

Large scale fish deaths along the river banks reported from Tuting and Geling in Upper Siang district close to the Chinese border also raised alarm about the possible use of toxic substance in the upper reaches.

Water warfare as predicted long before, is clearly on display with China having the vantage point of many of the rivers in South East Asia originating from the Tibetan plateau. It has used it as a political tool and as leverage on a downstream country –India.

China had briefly denied India flood-related hydrological data few years ago. Data on upstream river flows is essential for flood forecasting and warning in order to save lives and reduce material losses. 

For long, China has been damming its many rivers as a way of flexing its muscles with co-riparian India with sans regard of the consequences.

The issues of downstream communities must be treated from a humanitarian perspective as in many cases this has resulted in greater frequency and severity of flooding, drought and pollution. International cooperation on shared water resources is critical and must be strengthened and adhered to at all costs.

The Arunachal government must mount pressure on the Centre to take up the issue expeditiously in international forum.

Not just the Kameng or the Siang but all major rivers of Arunachal originate across the border. Imagine, if similar is the case with them. Rivers are the lifeline of the people and indiscriminate tampering in the upper reaches will spell doom for the downstream communities including the riverine ecosystem

Kenter Joya Riba

(Managing Editor)
      She is a graduate in Science with post graduation in Sociology from University of Pune. She has been in the media industry for nearly a decade. Before turning to print business, she has been associated with radio and television.
Email: kenterjoyaz@easternsentinel.in / editoreasternsentinel@gmail.com
Phone: 0360-2212313

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