Stating that India “trusts China”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday informed the Rajya Sabha that China had assured India that the dam being built on the Brahamaputra River in Tibet would not harm India’s interest.

“We trust its statement. India and China are neighbours. It is in our interest to have the best possible relations with China. We have been assured by China that nothing will be done that will affect India’s interest,” Dr. Singh told the Rajya Sabha during Question Hour. He was intervening in the reply to a question put to External Affairs Minister, S.M. Krishna.

Dr. Singh informed the members that the construction of a dam at Zangmu, on the Brahmaputra river in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, had been repeatedly taken up with China. It is a run-of-the-river hydro-electric project which does not store water. “We trust [the Chinese statements] but also verify. China has given [us] an assurance that the dam on the river will not in anyway hurt India’s interest,” he added.

Noting that the sharing of water from the rivers which are of inter-state importance could cause problems at times, Dr. Singh said the matter should be allowed to rest with the assurance given by China. “Unnecessary provocation on either side can hurt relations,” he remarked.

Earlier, Mr. Krishna said the government was aware of the construction activity at Zangmu. India had taken up this matter China during the recent visit to India by Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao in December last year, he said. “The Government has ascertained that this is a run-of-the-river hydro-electric project, which does not store water and will not adversely impact the downstream areas in India,” he said.

“India trusts statements when the Government of China at the highest level assures the Prime Minister on the dam,” Mr. Krishna said. “We trust but we also verify. We have verified Chinese claims on the dam being run-of-the-river power project which does not store water. We are convinced that it is a run-of-the-river project. We constantly keep our surveillance across the border,” he said.

Mr. Krishna said 80 per cent of the catchment areas of the Brahmaputra were within the Indian territory. “It is important that the States of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam harness and utilise the waters of the Brahmaputra. The Chinese Premier said that China’s development of upstream areas will be on the basis of scientific planning and study and will never harm downstream interests,” he added.