China also agreed to extend provision of hydrological data, from May 15 to October 15 every year on a daily basis, adding 15 days to an earlier agreement. The data will be provided by three stations at Nugesha, Yangcun and Nuxia in Tibet on the main stream of the river.

Three new dams

China last year gave the go-ahead for three new hydropower dams on the Yarlung Zangbo, ending a two-year suspension on new projects. Beijing has said that the projects will not affect downstream flows, but a lack of transparency on its plans has been a source of concern. China began construction on a 510-MW project in Zangmu in 2010 — so far the only major project on the river’s main stream.

The MoU builds upon an agreement to cooperate on transboundary rivers signed last year, providing technical details such as the data transmission method, frequency and cost settlement. While China will provide data on water flows, India will make available information on data utilisation in flood forecasting and mitigation.

The MoU on the Brahmaputra was among three agreements signed on Monday as Vice-President Hamid Ansari held talks with his counterpart Li Yuanchao.

Infrastructure parks

Both countries have also formalised a framework for setting up China-dedicated infrastructure parks in India and for a the first-ever training exchange programme for officials of both countries, between the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie, and the China Executive Leadership Academy (CELAP) in Shanghai.

The industrial parks agreement envisages China exploring the possibility of setting up clusters in a range of areas. The hope is that the move will boost Chinese investment into India and reduce the ballooning trade deficit. An Industrial Park Cooperation Working Group, made up of an equal number of representatives from both countries, will be set up to identify and agree upon the detailed modalities, with four locations already being considered by China.