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Govt underlines: Dalai Lama free to visit Arunachal

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao made it clear that the Tibetan spiritual leader,the Dalai Lama,is free to visit any part of the country.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
October 17, 2009 10:40:53 am

Reitrating that Arunachal Pradesh is an “inalienable” part of India,Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao today made it clear that the Tibetan spiritual leader,the Dalai Lama,is free to visit any part of the country.

The proposed November trip to Arunachal will be the Dalai Lama’s fifth visit to the state,the last one was in 2003.

Rao,in an interview to All India Radio,said: “We regard and we have always said this clearly and also to China that His Holiness Dalai Lama is a spiritual figure,he is a religious figure,and he does not indulge in political activities on Indian soil and he is our guest in India and he is free to visit any part of our country.”

China has objected to the proposed visit.

Referring to the recent exchanges between the two countries,she said: “I can say it with all honesty both governments are convinced that there is no other way to resolve this without dialogue. One has to resolve it through dialogue. I remember our first late Prime Minister,Jawaharlal Nehru,speaking to Parliament in 1962 saying,‘We cannot march to Peking,’ and I am quoting his words.”

Reaffirming India’s position on Chinese objections to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal,the Foreign Secretary said: “Of course,we take this (Beijing’s objections) seriously,and we have been very,very particular and very clear and unambivalent in expressing our position to the Chinese. In that way,we have said that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India,it is an inalienable part of India.”

Meanwhile,officials here indicated that a “hotline” is “very near” to being set up between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

And that a meeting between the two is likely at the East Asia summit beginning October 23 in Bangkok. “It’s routine to meet on the sidelines of such a summit,” said an official.

Brahmaputra dams: Govt was alerted,didn’t move

RAVISH TIWARI

NEW DELHI

With new evidence emerging to suggest that China has begun constructing a dam on its side of the Brahmaputra — as first reported by The Indian Express — the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) and National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) are taking a hard look at the Chinese plans before the matter can formally be taken up with Beijing.

Official sources said that the NTRO,using NRSA data,had alerted the Government in May 2008 about nine suspected locations along the river on the Chinese side.

The NTRO had informed the Committee of Secretaries about increased infrastructure activity near the Great Bend where the Brahmaputra takes a steep turn to enter India. Citing “open sources”,NTRO had even indicated 2009 could see “commencement” of construction work in the Great Western River Diversion Project.

Reports on Chinese plans to divert Brahmaputra water have been taken note of ever since 2003. In 2005,Li Ling’s book ‘How Tibet’s water will save China’ detailed plans to divert about 200 BCM of water from Tibet,including 120 BCM from the Brahmaputra basin on the Chinese side.

The CoS has been monitoring this aspect since 2006. Sources said that the CoS met several times — in October 2006,September 2008,October 2008 and February 2009 — to discuss reports of Chinese plans to build a dam on the Brahmaputra. At one stage,the CoS was informed that the Great Western River Diversion Project had “moved from discussion to planning stage”,sources said.

Despite a CoS recommendation,the Government did not constitute a Group of Ministers.The CoS recommended a GoM to fast-track storage projects in Arunachal Pradesh to take care of any “adverse construction” on the Chinese side. But only a high-level group of senior officials and experts was formed to expedite projects in Arunachal Pradesh.

A PTI report from Guwahati quoted Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi as saying that his government was “seriously concerned” over the construction of a dam by the Chinese as “we apprehend it will affect Assam and dry up Brahmaputra and other water resources downstream.” Gogoi said he would meet the Prime Minister and Union Water Resources Minister and ask them to take up the issue with Beijing.

In New Delhi,BJP president Rajnath Singh was said to have raised the dam-construction matter in a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yan. According to a release issued by his office,Singh also said that “China’s repeated claims on Arunachal Pradesh amounted to repeated interference in India’s internal affairs”. He said the “BJP was solidly behind the Union Government in its diplomatic efforts to resolve bilateral issues with its northern neighbour”. Zhang Yan was quoted as having said that China wanted to have cordial relations with India but “there were some historical issues to be resolved”.

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