Connecting Regions of Asia.

Chinese Assurance On Brahmaputra Dam


After China’s proposal to construct a ‘mega’ dam on the Brahmaputra river raised eyebrows in India, Beijing has said that it will take into consideration the interest of other countries before firming up any plan to develop it. On Monday, Chinese state media reported the country could build up to 60 gigawatts (GW) of hydropower capacity in the lower reaches of the Yarlung Tsangbo river, known as the Brahmaputra in India.

‘No need to over-interpret’

Ji Rong, Spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, said that downstream development of the river was at a “preliminary planning and demonstration” stage. “Any project will undergo scientific planning and demonstration with full consideration for the impact on the downstream areas and the interests of both upstream and downstream countries,” she said in a statement. “There is no need to over-interpret it,” she added.

Meanwhile, India too plans to construct a multipurpose reservoir in Arunachal Pradesh to offset the impact of China’s major hydropower project, a senior official of the Jal Shakti ministry said on Tuesday. T S Mehra, Commissioner (Brahmaputra and Barak), in the Jal Shakti ministry said the multi-purpose 10,000 MW hydropower project is under consideration. “This project will help offset the impact of the hydropower project by China,” he said, according to news agency PTI.

‘There is no parallel in history…’

He explained that the proposed 9.2 BCM ‘Upper Siang’ project on the Siang river in Arunachal Pradesh will be able to take the excess load of water discharge and can even store water in case of any deficit. Mehra added that 90% of the Brahmaputra’s water comes through its tributaries in India during the monsoon season, thanks to the abundant rainfall in the northeast region. It is only in the winters that 80% of the Siang river gets its water from the upper stretches as glaciers become the main source.

Last week, Yan Zhiyong, chairman of the Power Construction Corp of China, said Beijing will “implement hydropower exploitation in the downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo” and the project could serve to maintain water resources and domestic security. “There is no parallel in history… It will be a historic opportunity for the Chinese hydropower industry,” Yan told a press conference organised to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering.

The mighty Brahmaputra, one of the longest rivers in the world passes through China, India and Bangladesh and has several tributaries and sub-tributaries. Yarlung Zangbo originates in Tibet. The river is known as Siang when it enters India through Arunachal Pradesh. It is further joined by several tributaries to take shape of the Brahmaputra in Assam. 

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