New Delhi: India will pay China over Rs 82 lakh annually for crucial flood data of the Brahmaputra to improve flood forecasting even as the two sides agreed to allow their water experts to conduct study tours on both sides of the river which originates in Tibet.
The agreement was signed between India and China yesterday in Beijing in the presence of Vice President Hamid Ansari.
With both sides agreeing on the exchange of hydrologists, Indian water experts will be able to visit Tibet to monitor the flow of the river in its upper reaches amidst New Delhi’s fears that China is working on a series of dam projects in the area.
“In order to ensure normal provision of hydrological information, if necessary, after mutual consultation through diplomatic channel, the parties may dispatch hydrological experts to each other’s country to conduct study tour according to the principle of reciprocity,” the agreement states.
The agreement or the “implementation plan” on flood data sharing will provide India with 15 additional days of hydrological data of Brahmaputra.
The data, which helps India in flood forecasting, will be provided from May 15 to October 15 each year — the flood season. Earlier, the data was provided between June 1 and October 15.
The Chinese side also agreed to provide hydrological information if water levels at observation stations are close to, or approaching, warning levels in the non-flood season.
According to the agreement, India will pay 850,000 yuan or roughly over Rs 82 lakh (one yuan equivalent to Rs 9.70) in US dollars every April to get data from the Nugesha, Yangcun and Nuxia observation stations.
India has been getting data from China since 2002. But since 2008, it has been paying Beijing for the same. The money is utilised by China to maintain the observation stations and pay the allowances of its personnel deployed there.
Sources in the government here said that the amount has increased since 2008 due to foreign exchange rates and the fact that New Delhi will now get forecast data for more days.
The Indian side will also inform its Chinese counterpart as to how it utilised the data for flood forecasting and mitigation.
The latest agreement is based on two Memorandums of Understanding signed between the two countries in May and October, 2013.
New Delhi had first entered into an MoU with Beijing for the sharing of hydrological information on the downstream Brahmaputra river in the flood season in 2002.
The Brahmaputra originates in south-west Tibet as Yarlung Tsangpo. It is also called Yarlung Zangbo in China.