Amid concerns over China’s hydropower project on Brahmaputra, India plans multipurpose dam in Northeast

By Ayushi Kedia

India to build a multipurpose reservoir in Arunachal Pradesh. Amid concerns over a major hydropower project being developed by China on the Brahmaputra river in Tibet, India now plans to develop a multipurpose reservoir in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Commissioner (Brahmaputra and Barak) in the Jal Shakti Ministry, T S Mehra said that the multi-purpose 10,000 MW hydropower project is under consideration right now. According to Mehra, this hydropower project will help offset the impact of China’s hydropower project. It is being said that the proposed 9.2 BCM ‘Upper Siang’ project on the Siang river will be able to take the excess water discharge load and in case of any deficit, it can even store water.

According to Mehra, during monsoon season, Brahmaputra’s 90% water comes through its tributaries in India due to the abundant rainfall in the northeast part of the country. It is only during the winter season that the Siang river gets its 80% water from the upper stretches as glaciers become the main source. According to another senior official of the Jal Shakti Ministry, since the 1980s, the project has been under discussion, further pointing out hindrances in the project’s execution.

Last week, Power Construction Corp of China Chairman, Yan Zhiyong said Beijing will implement hydropower exploitation in downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo. Yan further said the hydropower project could serve to maintain water resources as well as domestic security.

According to the report, the mighty Brahmaputra, which is also one of the world’s longest rivers, passes through India, China, Bangladesh and it has several tributaries as well as sub-tributaries. Known as Yarlung Zangbo in Tibetan, the river originates in Tibet and it is also called as Siang when it enters India through the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Further, it is joined by several tributaries to take shape of the river Brahmaputra in the state of Assam.

As a state of lower riparian with considerable established user rights to the waters of the trans-border rivers, the government of India has conveyed its concerns and views to the Chinese authorities consistently. The Indian government has urged China to ensure that any activities in upstream areas do not harm the interests of downstream states. In the year 2006, India and China established the expert-level mechanism in order to discuss various issues related to trans-border rivers. Under existing bilateral MoUs, during the flood seasons, China provides hydrological information of Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers to India. China provides flood season data of the river Brahmaputra, under the arrangement, every year between May 15 and October 15, the report added.

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