China approves massive dam on the Brahmaputra River close to the India border

China has approved a massive dam to be built on the Yarlung Tsangpo river in occupied Tibet, which is called the Brahmaputra river in India and Jamuna in Bangladesh, in the 50-kilometre section of the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon (Medog county) during the ongoing National People’s Congress. As per Chinese media, the area has a potential of generating 70 million kWh electricity that could be developed with a 2,000-meter drop, which is thrice the generation capacity of Three Gorges power stations, the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity.

This is the first dam on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo River and just 30 kms away from the Indian border. The gravity Zangmu Dam, located in the Gyaca County in Shannan Prefecture, which is already functional is constructed on the upper reaches of the river. Three small scale dams viz Dagu, Jiacha and Jeixu are also being built on the river. The Chinese have already built the Zam hydropower station (worlds biggest power station) and Lalho hydel project on the Brahmaputra river.

Originating from Mount Kailash, the 4,696-km-long river enters India from China in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, then flows through Assam before it enters Bangladesh and joins the River Ganga to empty into the Bay of Bengal.

Indian Opposition

India is concerned about the Chinese dam projects on Brahmaputra, but is helpless due to its weak leadership. The first Prime Minister of India Late Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru lost Indian territories to China after putting up a fight and the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lost Indian territory to China and has not even put up a fight barring a military maneuver of securing the perceived Indian territory only to withdraw under a partial deal. India is unable to tackle China in international forums.The Modi government has issued a weak statement over the issue. ” As a lower riparian State with considerable established user rights to the waters of the River, India has conveyed the views and concerns to the Chinese authorities, including at the highest levels of the Government of the People’s Republic of China. India has urged China to ensure that the interests of downstream States are not harmed by any activities in upstream areas,” sates a government release on 7 December 2015. The only significant step taken on the issue was during the term of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006 when the two sides established an India China Expert Level Mechanism (ELM) on Trans-border Rivers.

The Medog dam is to be built on the lowest of the three streams of Yarlung Tsangpo, accounting for only 20-25 percent of the overall volume of water flowing into India. The volume of water flowing to India may be not decrease but the flow pattern and the silt received will be affected.

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Frontier India News Network
Frontier India News Network
Frontier India News Network is the in-house news collection and distribution agency.
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