Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Floods in Sutlej, made in China

jul 12th

thanks to reader girish.

hydrological warfare by the chinese. if we keep quiet about this, they will proceed with the diversion of the brahmaputra.

i dont think there is any alternative to war with china in the long run. the commies are such jerks. alas, they are building up their military power much faster than we are. fortunately, the war against china when it comes will be from all fronts: japan, taiwan, korea, vietnam, burma, tibet, central asia, us pacific fleet, australia.


Floods in Sutlej, made in China
By Sudhirendar Sharma

Unless India gets hydrological data from China, flood management will be impossible

After flooding the markets with its cheap goods, China has now become the cause for recurrent floods in India. The much awaited Pareechhu disaster may slip into hydrological history but the chances of flash floods will continue to haunt the lower riparian region in India. With flash floods having ravaged the entire region twice in the past five years, the diplomatic failure in engaging the Chinese in sharing vital data on river hydrology within its territory seems glaringly evident.

Had it not been for the detailed study of satellite data by ISRO scientists, the 50-ft high wall of water in the Sutlej river, that had swept away 200 people from Kinnaur and Shimla on the fateful night of August 1, 2000, would have continued to be attributed to cloud bursts. Till the unveiling of ISRO's stunning revelation, the government had dismissed the incident as freak natural phenomena caused by cloudbursts. China too had attributed the floods in the Sutlej to 'natural' causes on the Indian side.

Caught napping

Though the government was caught unawares five years ago an early warning by China on the impending disaster, brewing behind the glacial lake on the Pareechhu river, helped avert major loss to human lives during the recent floods. Yet, the country's disaster preparedness plans have been found wanting on several fronts. No sooner had the flood waters receded in the river, the government covered up its shortcomings by announcing that the situation was under control as the 'worst' was over.

The Pareechhu lake may have vanished and flood waters in the Sutlej may have receded but the worst is far from over. Given the geological rumblings and the changing climate in the Himalayas, rivers often carry the brunt of such abrupt variations in the upper reaches of the treacherous mountains. Two disasters in quick succession in the Sutlej basin are indications enough that the 334 glaciers in the river basin may be in a state of grave unrest.

Much of the river basin secrets lay embedded in the mountains such that river Pareechhu which starts as a trickle on the Indian territory re-emerges as a giant dinosaur a few kilometres later after meandering inside the Chinese territory. "Whatever might happen to the river inside our territory is nobody's concern," China seems to reiterate its stubborn stand. Neither do they permit experts to conduct surveys inside its territory nor do they share hydrological data.

Politics of dominance is evident! China does to India what India does to Pakistan and Bangladesh, hiding vital hydrological data as defence secrets. However, locked up in these secrets are 24 glacial lakes which are as vulnerable as the Pareechhu lake, ready to burst at their seams at the slightest climatic provocation. And lies therein the story of apocalypse; a conspiracy theory; a failed diplomacy and much of that is already happening. The signs are ominous!

Using global climate data, the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute had long warned that for some time the rivers originating in the Himalayas are expected to swell abnormally and then fall to dangerously low levels. Basing its argument on the fact that the Himalayan glaciers were rapidly melting, the report had also warned about the sudden bursting of glacial lakes due to above normal discharge. The warnings have already come true.

Lack of communication

Some diplomatic manoeuvering has been under way in the recent past for sharing hydrological information but there hasn't been any evidence of data exchange during the recent floods. Reports indicate that in the absence of any authentic information on the depth of the lake, Indian authorities are continuously making guesses to gauge the actual impact. That the glacial lake was 123 hectares in size was long known from satellite imageries, it was the depth of the lake which was an area of concern.

The Sutlej floods go beyond the conventional framework of flood mitigation and disaster management. From contentious cross-border diplomacy to abrupt climatic change and from trans-boundary water sharing to impending ecological destruction, these flash floods spill over to plug hydroelectric power production in the hills alongside reducing reservoir storage capacity downstream as well. The fact that these floods have started occurring frequently adds to the water woes.

How often the 1,500 MW Nathpa-Jhakri Hydroelectric Power Station on the banks of the Sutlej had to shut down owing to such floods? Precariously located along the swirling waters of the rivers, the power plant may well be the first victim should glacial lakes in the upper reaches breach again.

Delhi's handling of the present crisis will determine the depth of its understanding of the impending crisis. From Himachal Pradesh in the north to Arunachal Pradesh in the east, there are rivers that have their basins hidden in the neighbour's territory.

Unless deft diplomatic handling brings the upper riparian to the negotiating table, India will be at the receiving end of the disasters that are waiting to happen. However, much will depend on how indeed it positions itself as an upper riparian as well.



Anonymous said...


Don't know what is going to come out of Karat and Ali's trip to the fatherland

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a 'flood tax' on all Chinese imports might bring some sense into the Chinese authorities?

Gopal said...

war with china would be the equivalent of a swarm of grasshoppers invading a neighbourbhood. the more you kill the more turn up. china has the upper hand atleast in non-military terms against all countries including the US. the day US changes its policy, the chinese will just dump all those dollars into the open market and stop buying any US govt.bonds, the result: ballooning federal deficit of the US.

Anonymous said...

Yet another pathetic demonstration of Srinivasan's vast inferiority complex toward China. After reading many of his other posts, I think I have pinpointed the root cause of this. The root cause of his hatred of China is neither the current geopolitical situation nor the war in 1962. The root cause is historical. I have noticed how sensitive he gets when the issue of the historical origin
of Indian civilization is brought up, and how far he is willing to cover his ears and close his eyes and scream "I can't hear you!!!" when overwhelming evidence supporting the "Aryan Invasion Theory" is presented. He is jealous of the fact that out of the two Asian civilizations only the Chinese can claim Chinese civilization as entirely their own while Indian civilization was brought to Indians by invading foreigners. So, paradoxically, instead of directing his anger at the Europeans, he chooses direct all his poison at the Chinese. It's like when the victim of a robbery paradoxically doesn't blame the robber but instead is jealous of his neighbor who was not robbed.

Now onto the current issue. Let's face it, with the exception of population size, India is not China's equal, never has and never will be. China's only worthy "permanent enemy" is the United States. India is nothing but an occasional distraction that we have to "teach a lesson" to once in a while. We should milk it for profit when we can and ruin it when it serves us (62' anyone?). When India gets a little too "giddy" (i.e. economic growth gets above 8 percent), it would be the right time to provoke a war between it and Pakistan and set it back at least a decade. I certainly hope this will happen in the next 20 years(Although I will not make any retarded armchair predictions Srinivasan is prone to).