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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 12 March, 2021

  • 5 Min Read

China’s dams on Brahmaputra

China’s dams in the Brahmaputra

  • The 14th FYP (2021-25) of China has given the go-ahead for a Chinese hydropower company to construct the first downstream hydropower project on the lower reaches of the river Brahmaputra.

About the Project:

  • The state-owned hydropower company POWERCHINA signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government to implement hydropower exploitation downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo river as part of the new Five Year Plan (2021-2025).
  • This will be the first time the downstream sections of the river will be tapped. However, the location of the planned project has not been mentioned anywhere.
  • The Great Bend of the Brahmaputra and the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon in Medog county, where the river turns sharply to flow across the border into Arunachal Pradesh could be the potential spot for the project.
  • This 50 km section alone offers a potential of developing 70 million kilowatt hours (Kwh).

China’s Previous dam Projects:

  • In 2015, China operationalised its first hydropower project at Zangmu in Tibet, while three other dams at Dagu, Jiexu and Jiacha are being developed, all on the upper and middle reaches of the river.

Indian concerns:

  • India has been expressing concerns about the Brahmaputra since 2015 when China operationalised its project at Zangmu.
  • A dam at the Great Bend, if approved, would raise fresh concerns considering its location downstream and just across the border from Arunachal Pradesh.
  • For India, the quantity of water is not an issue because these are run the river dams and will not impact the Brahmaputra flow. More importantly, Brahmaputra is not entirely dependent on upstream flows and an estimated 35% of its basin is in India.
  • However, India is concerned about the Chinese activities affecting the quality of water, ecological balance and flood management.
  • India and China do not have a water-sharing agreement.
  • Both nations share hydrological data so it becomes important to share genuine data and have a continuous dialogue on issues like warning of droughts, floods and high water discharges.

Source: TH


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