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Opinion

China defends Brahmaputra dam, India strikes back

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India said on Thursday that China must ensure that its hydroelectric projects do not infringe the water rights of the lower riparian states, even as Beijing asserted its right to build a dam on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River near the Royal Line of Control. (LACQUER).

China’s plans to build a “super” dam at Yarlung Zangbo in Medog County of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) have sparked fears about far-reaching consequences for water security in northeastern Indian states. The cross-border Yarlung Zangbo, which originates from TAR, flows into Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, where it is known as Brahmaputra and plays a crucial role in the local economy.

“As a lower riparian state with considerable established user rights over the waters of transboundary rivers, the government has consistently conveyed its views and concerns to the Chinese authorities and urged them to ensure that the interests of the downstream states do not are harmed by any activity upstream, ”said Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava.

The development, occurring in the context of the protracted border confrontation in the Ladakh sector of LAC, has the potential to further complicate bilateral relations.

India has taken note of reports of China’s plans to build a super dam and the government carefully monitors all developments on the Brahmaputra river, Srivastava said. The Chinese side has informed India on several occasions that “it is only undertaking hydroelectric projects in passing that do not involve the diversion of the Brahmaputra waters,” it said.

“We intend to remain engaged with China on the issue of transboundary rivers to safeguard our interests,” Srivastava said. Issues regarding transboundary rivers are discussed with China through an expert mechanism, established in 2006, and diplomatic channels.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying brushed aside apprehensions about the project and affirmed China’s “legitimate right” to build projects in the lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo. He offered the assurance that any project will take into account the interests of downstream states like India and Bangladesh.

“When it comes to the use and development of cross-border rivers, China always acts responsibly. We have a development and conservation policy, and all projects will undergo scientific planning and evaluation with due consideration of their downstream impact and taking into account the interests of the upstream and downstream regions, ”he said when asked. about the project.

“The development of the lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo is in the early stages of planning and evaluation. There’s no need to read too much about it, ”he said.

China, India and Bangladesh have long had “good cooperation” in sharing hydrological information, flood reduction and contingency management, and Beijing will continue communications through existing channels, Hua said.

International experts said that while details about the massive project are not publicly available, it could affect lower riparian states and the TAR environment once completed.

Ameya Pratap Singh, a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford who has written on India-China relations, said India must be vigilant. From India’s perspective, the risks are floods, water shortages, water diversion and the ensuing unrest in the northeast, he said.

Liu Xiaoxue of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a think tank affiliated with the government, said the dam was an opportunity for China and India to cooperate, but that New Delhi’s apprehensions will remain.

“My opinion is that it will certainly benefit both parties and lead to mutual prosperity. But given the huge deficit of mutual political trust between India and China, there is no doubt that it will result in strong resistance from the Indian side, ”he said.

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