SOURCE: Hindustan Times

China has resumed sharing data about Brahmaputra with India from earlier this week, as it promised to do in March, when a team from the Indian water resources ministry met its counterparts from China.

While hydrological data of the Brahmaputra has started coming from May 15, China will start sharing data on the Sutlej next month. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said last month that China would share data on the two rivers. The data is important for predicting floods in basins of the rivers. Brahmaputra gets severely flooded during monsoon months affecting Northeaster India and Bangladesh. China stopped sharing the data with India last year soon after the Doklam stand-off.

Relations with China, which hit a low last year, have since improved. Last month, Indian PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for an informal summit in Wuhan. The two are expected to meet again in early June. “China has started sharing the data on Brahmaputra and will be sharing data on Sutlej from June,’’ said TS Mehta, commissioner Brahmaputra.

China, the upstream country, shares the scientific study of the movement, distribution and quality of water data for the river. The flow data also includes rainfall, water levels and discharge with India during the Monsoon months: May to October. India did not receive any hydrological data from China last year, despite an agreement between the two countries. Beijing maintained that its hydrological stations were being upgraded and that data couldn’t be shared although this did not seem to affect the data being shared with Bangladesh.

Strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney, who specialises in water issues, said, “Under the bilateral agreement between the two countries, China is bound to release hydrological data on Brahmaputra and Sutlej from May 15 till October 15 as India has already paid for the data. If China can stop the information despite India’s advance payment, they have made a point that they can do it anytime and India won’t be able to do much about it.”

Originating from Tibet, the Brahmaputra is one of the major rivers in China. From Tibet it flows down to India and later enters Bangladesh where it joins the Ganga and empties into the Bay of Bengal.