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Opinion

China to build a super dam on its part of the Brahmaputra river

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China will build a “super” dam on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River near the Royal Line of Control (LAC) in Tibet, a state media report said on Sunday, in a move that could have far-reaching impact. in water security of Northeast India.

Originating in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), the cross-border Yarlung Zangbo flows into Arunachal Pradesh where it is called Siang and then to Assam as Brahmaputra before flowing into Bangladesh.

The state media report indicated that the dam could arise in TAR’s Medog county, which is close to Arunachal Pradesh.

China has already built several smaller dams on the Yarlung Zangbo River.

The capacity of the new dam to generate hydroelectric power could be three times that of the Three Gorges Dam in central China, which has the largest installed hydroelectric capacity in the world.

The new dam will be built with the aim of maintaining China’s national security.

“China will build a hydroelectric project on the Yarlung Zangbo River, one of the main waters of Asia that also passes through India and Bangladesh,” the state tabloid Global Times said in a report Sunday night.

“There is no parallel in history (of the project … it will be a historic opportunity for the Chinese hydroelectric industry,” Yan Zhiyong, president of Power Construction Corp of China, or Powerchina said at a conference last week.

Initial work on the dam began with Powerchina’s signature on October 16 of a strategic cooperation agreement covering the 14th Five-Year Plan with the TAR government.

The news about the new dam was posted on an official social media platform of the ruling Communist Party of China (CCP) Youth League last week.

Yan added that the hydroelectric development of the downstream Yarlung Zangbo River “is more than a hydroelectric project. It is also significant for the environment, national security, standard of living, energy and international cooperation ”.

China “will implement the exploitation of hydroelectric power downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo River,” Yan said, adding that the plan presented in the proposals to formulate the country’s fourteenth five-year plan (2021-25) and its long-term goals until 2035. prepared by the CPC Central Committee.

According to Yan, the exploitation of hydroelectric power of 60 million kWh downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo River could provide 300 billion kWh of clean, renewable and carbon-free electricity per year.

“The project will play an important role in achieving China’s goal of reaching peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060,” Yan said.

“Speculation about China’s planning to build a ‘super hydroelectric power station’ in Medog County, where the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon is located, has circulated for years. Medog, with a population of approximately 14,000, was the last county in China to be connected to the outside world by road, “the Global Times report said.

Scholars have long pointed to China’s strategic advantage over India in terms of international transboundary rivers.

“China has claimed express ownership over the waters of Tibet, making it an upstream controller of seven of the mightiest rivers in South Asia: the Indus, the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween, Yangtze and Mekong. These rivers flow into Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, and form the largest river runoff of any place … Almost half of that water, 48%, runs directly to India, ”said a report. from the Lowy Institute in July. this year in the context of the current border friction between India and China in eastern Ladakh.

India and China have an agreement to share data on water.

In 2017, China stopped sharing data shortly after the 73-day clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam, near the Sikkim border, over plans by the Chinese military to build a highway near India’s Chicken Neck corridor connecting the northeastern states.

In 2018, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of Water Resources of China and the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganges Rejuvenation of India on the exchange of hydrological information of the Brahmaputra River in the flood season of China to India.

The agreement allows China to provide hydrological data in the flood season from May 15 to October 15 of each year. It also allows the Chinese side to provide hydrological data if the water level exceeds the mutually agreed level during the non-flood season.

Beijing also shares data on the rivers flowing into northern India.

However, fears persist that China could use cross-border rivers as weapons.

“For India, the only domain where China’s ‘upper riparian’ status represents an almost insurmountable challenge is ensuring shared access to transboundary rivers. And as recent clashes on the China-India border have made clear, India must assess how China could “weaponize” its advantage over those downstream countries. Control of these rivers gives China effective control over the Indian economy, ”added the July Lowy report.

The Global Times report quoted an expert as saying that dams in transboundary projects cannot be developed without cooperation between upstream and downstream countries.

“Hydropower projects in cross-border rivers cannot be developed without communication and cooperation between upstream and downstream countries,” Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research, told the tabloid. Xiamen University.

Hindustan Times

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