New Delhi: The concerns of those residing by the Siang river in Arunachal Pradesh over the changing nature of the river that enters from China have only risen following the sighting of stiff waves in the otherwise placid river. Latest media reports have stated that heavy rains recorded across the border in the last few days have triggered the unusual development, leading the neighbouring country to send an alert note to the Indian government about possible floods in the downstream areas, which include not just a part of Arunachal but also neighbouring Assam.
China shares hydrological data with India on the Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers every year as per a 2006 agreement and a set of memorandum of understandings signed between the two countries in 2013 and 2015. A meeting in this regard was also held between the two nations in 2016.
According to reports quoting a circular issued by the deputy commissioner of East Siang, Tamiyo Tatak, a hydrological data report received from China said heavy rainfall led to the rise in water level of river Tsangpo (Siang is known by that name in Tibet) with an “observed discharge of 9,020 cumec” (equivalent to around 9.02 million litres of water per second) as of 8 am on August 29. A report in The Asian Age said: “This is stated to be the highest discharge in the river in 50 years.”
The Arunachal Times reported on August 31, “Some 30 people, mostly cattle farmers, are stranded on an island in the Siang river in Jampani, under Sille-Oyan circle of East Siang district, even as the water level of the Siang river is rising.” The report said the DC “has written to the station commander of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Dibrugarh station, requesting for air-evacuation of the stranded people at the earliest possible to save their lives.”
On August 30, East Arunachal Pradesh MP Ninong Ering, who represents the area, tweeted a video of the surging river, requesting Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman to airlift the stranded people.
I have communicated to DC East siang, Pasighat on the grave situation that has developed in Jampani in Sika Bamin Pasighat. Water level is rising rapidly and has eroded land. About 30 person stranded in cattle sheds surrounded by water bodies. Request to airlift them. pic.twitter.com/heSuePbxsp
— Ninong Ering (@ninong_erring) August 30, 2018
Ering, who has been tweeting about the changing features of the river since the end of 2017, told The Wire on August 31, “The defence ministry has acted on my request. All the 30 people have been airlifted this morning.” He, however, added, “But the worry of the local people is far from over as the Chinese government’s alert to the India government said that the water level is likely to rise further.”
On August 29, the district administration advised people living in low-lying areas on both the river banks “including Jarku, Paglek, SS Mission, Jarkong, Banskota, Berung, Sigar, Borguli, Seram, Kongkul, Namsing and Mer to remain alert, but said there was no reason to panic.”
Local reports said the district administration of Dhemaji in Assam bordering Arunachal has also alerted the local population in the flood-prone areas about the rising water levels in river Brahmaputra (Siang merges into Brahmaputra after entering Assam), besides the national and state disaster relief forces.