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Cabinet approves flood pact between India, China


New Delhi : The cabinet Friday approved a pact that will enable China provide information to India on flood season data of the Brahmaputra river, known as Yarlung Zangbo in that country, that will help protect people living along its banks.

“The Chinese side will provide flood season data from 2008 to 2012,” Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here.

The MoU will enable India to improve flood forecasting and timely warning for those living in the downstream reaches of the Brahmaputra.

The memorandum of understanding was signed between India and China during the visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Beijing in June. The cabinet granted ex-post-facto approval to the pact Friday.

India and China had decided to set up an expert-level mechanism to discuss interaction and cooperation on sharing flood season hydrological data, emergency management and other issues regarding trans-border rivers during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to India in November 2006.

The data will be crucial for India in insulating the affected areas from floods that cause huge loss to crops, life and property.

Rampant deforestation in the Brahmaputra watershed has resulted in increased siltation levels, flash floods, and soil erosion in critical downstream habitat, such as the Kaziranga National Park in Assam .

The Brahmaputra, also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, originates in southwestern Tibet as the Yarlung Tsangpo.