The use of Nathu La in Sikkim for the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra was suspended during the Doklam standoff.
Beijing: With the Doklam standoff a thing of the past, China on Tuesday expressed its readiness to hold talks on reopening the Nathu La in Sikkim for the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra. The use of this route by pilgrims had been suspended due to the standoff.
China also said on Tuesday that it cannot share the hydrological data of the Brahmaputra river with India due to upgradation of its data collection station in Tibet. China is expected to share hydrological data on the Sutlej and Brahmaputra rivers with India in the flood season of May 15 to June 15 under a bilateral expert-level mechanism established in 2006.
“For a long time we have conducted cooperation on the river data with the Indian side. But to upgrade and renovate the relevant station in the Chinese side, we do not have the conditions now to collect the relevant statistics of the river,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters here. Asked when China would give the data, that was reportedly suspended over the Doklam standoff, he said: “We will consider that later.”
In response to another question, he said that “according to his information” the Indian side had been informed about this.
On August 18, MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar had said there was an existing expert-level mechanism, set up in 2006, and there are two MoUs under which China is expected to share hydrological data on the Sutlej and Brahmaputra rivers with India during the May 15-June 15 flood season and added that “for this year, we have not received hydrological data from the Chinese side”.
The Indian government says the data share by the upper riparian state, China, to lower riparian states India and Bangladesh is essential every monsoon to allow the flow of water to be correctly anticipated so that necessary measures can be taken to deal with flooding in India’s northeastern states.
However, some experts question this, and claim that the government’s concerns may be misplaced. They say that only around 14 per cent of the Brahmaputra’s flow is generated in China, and the remaining 86 per cent after it enters India, so even a 10-20 per cent reduction in the flow from China would have minimal impact on India and Bangladesh.
The Chinese spokesman, Mr Geng, sounded positive on the reopening of the Kailash-Mansarovar route via Nathu La, saying Beijing was ready to “keep communications” with the India on this issue. “For a long China has made efforts against all odds to provide necessary convenience to the Indian pilgrims. According to the agreement reached between the two leaders and based on the fact that the western section of the India-China boundary has been recognised by the two sides, China opened the pass to Indian pilgrims,” he said.
The Sikkim route to Mansarovar was opened in 2015, enabling pilgrims to travel the 1,500-km route from Nathu La to Kailash by buses. The yatra has been organised by the external affairs ministry since 1981 through the Lipu Pass in the Himalays linking the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand in India with the old trading town of Taklakot in Tibet.