New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said China has given an assurance that the dam which is going to be built on the Brahmaputra river in Tibet will not harm India' interest and ‘we trust’ its statement.

"India and China are neighbours. It is in our interest to have best possible relations with China...We have been assured (by China) that nothing will be done that will affect India's interest," Singh told the Rajya Sabha.

He was intervening in the reply to a question put to External Affairs Minister SM Krishna during the Question Hour.

Singh said the issue of construction of a dam at Zangmu, on the Brahmaputra River in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, has been repeatedly discussed with China. It is a run-of-the-river hydro-electric project which does not store water.

"We trust (Chinese statements) but also verify," he said, adding China has given an assurance that the dam on the river will not in any way hurt India's interest.

Noting that the sharing of water of rivers which are of inter-state importance can sometime cause problem, Singh said the matter should be allowed to rest with the assurance given by China. "Unnecessary provocation on either side can hurt relations," he said.

Krishna earlier 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, 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," he said. "We constantly keep our surveillance across the border."

Krishna said 80 per cent of the catchment of the Brahmaputra was within Indian Territory. "It is important that the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam harness and utilize the waters of the Brahmaputra.

"The Chinese Premier said the China's development of upstream areas will be on the basis of scientific planning and study and will never harm downstream interests," he added.

China has 'geographical advantage' in border areas

Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry has told a Parliamentary Committee that China has "geographical advantage" over India along the border between the two countries.

"China has been building its infrastructure. They have advantage of the topography also because they have the Tibetan plateau whereas from our side, the terrain and geography are more difficult," Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar told the Standing Committee on Defence.

To counter the infrastructure development by China in border areas, the Government has sanctioned various projects to build a road network in the northeastern region.

"Therefore, these roads (Project 73 roads) have been assigned the highest priority by the government," he said.

Under the project, 73 strategically important roads are being constructed by the Border Roads Organisation along the Indo-China border.

For smooth movement of troops and equipment in the region, India has plans of laying three rail lines connecting areas including North Lakhimpur (Assam)-Along (Arunachal Pradesh)-Silapathar (Assam), Missamari (Assam) to Tawang, , and Murkongselek (Assam)-Pasighat (Arunachal)-Rupai (Assam).

In a Standing Committee report tabled in Parliament yesterday, the Defence Ministry had said that the railway line to Pasighat has been declared as a 'National Project'.

"Survey for this project has been sanctioned and is yet to be carried out," it said.

India has been developing its capabilities in the northeast in view of the military infrastructure development undertaken by the Chinese on their side.

(Agencies)