China says earthquake behind turbidity of Brahmaputra waters

New Delhi, Jan 2  The Chinese Embassy here on Tuesday confirmed that an earthquake in Tibet last year was the reason behind the turbidity of the waters of river Brahmaputra which originates as the Yarlung Tsangpo in China.

“According to the investigations by relevant departments of China, a 6.9-magnitude earthquake stuck Milin county of Nyingchi city in Tibet at 6 a.m. on November 18,” Embassy spokesperson Xie Liyan said in a statement.

“The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Bend Region was seriously affected by the earthquake, resulting in shattered land surface, reduced vegetation and soil exposure,” Xie said.

“Massive landslide and collapsing occurred along the Yarlung Zangbo river range, causing negative impact on water quality of the river. Indeed, water in Motuo sector of the Yarlung Zangbo river turned turbid.”

Xie’s comments come after sections of the Indian media reported that the reason behind the Brahmaputra’s turbidity was construction of projects on the Chinese side of the border.

According to reports, a huge amount of debris has accumulated and blocked three locations, forming natural dams on the river across a 12-km stretch in China.

India worries that these three landslide-induced dams and lakes may give way, leading to a huge deluge downstream.

Last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that according to verification by the relevant authorities, this lake was to the east section of the China-India boundary.

“It is caused by natural factors, it is not man-made,” Hua said.

According to Tuesday’s statement by Xie, analysis of satellite images, environmental and hydrological data showed that there have been no large-scale human activities around relevant sections of the Yarlung Zangbo river.

“The change of colour of water in the lower reaches of the river should have been caused by natural factors including earthquakes, rather than man-made incidents, and there were no artificial lakes in relevant parts of the Yarlung Zangbo river,” Xie said.

“The Chinese side will stay in touch with the Indian side on the issue concerning trans-border rivers through existing channels.”

India and China have an understanding on exchange of data on the rivers flowing from China, but last year New Delhi said Beijing did not stick to this.