China yields nothing on Tibet dams in trans-border river pact with India


(, Oct26, 2013) India and China on Oct 23 signed a pact to strengthen cooperation on trans-border rivers during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China which began on Oct 22. However, the pact signed during the much heralded visit does not address New Delhi’s immediate concerns over the world’s highest dam (3,370 feet according to current estimates) that is being built in occupied Tibet, reported Oct 25.

The only positive development under the new agreement is that China has agreed to provide more flood data of Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet) river from May to October instead of June to October that was in practice under the previous similar agreements of 2008 and 2010.

However, the pact does not allay India’s immediate apprehensions on the hydropower (510 MW) dam that is being built in Zangmu in the Shannan (Tibetan: Lhoka) Prefecture in Tibet, the report cited official sources as saying with disappointment. The construction of this dam begun in 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2015.

The report cited sources as saying China would meet the energy demands of Guangdong and Hong Kong from this project and plans to import (sic) electricity to Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, Laos and Cambodia. It said India feared that the project would decrease the flow of the river water once it enters India and also destruct the Himalayan ecosystem on the Indian side.

Also not at all talked about during Singh visit was China’s approval earlier this year of three additional dam projects, with one of them having more capacity than Zangmu, namely a 640 MW dam to be built in Dagu, located 18 km upstream of Zangmu. The others are a 320 MW dam to be built at Jiacha, also on the middle reaches of the Brahmaputura and downstream of Zangmu. The third one will be built at Jiexu, 11 km upstream of Zangmu.

The report said that because of its altitude, this area is often subjected to harsh weather conditions and advanced technology was being used by China while building these dams.

Even these are not all. According to the report, China has also built at least six smaller hydropower projects on the YarlungTsangpo’s tributaries, which, it claims will have no impact on downstream flows. And India remains very disappointed that China has not been transparent in sharing information on its hydel-power projects on the Brahmaputra.


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