Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dam on Brahmaputra not against India, allays Beijing


Amidst concerns over the construction of a mega hydel project on the Brahmaputra river in Tibet, Beijing has tried to allay the fears of Delhi about the dam and says the dam is not aimed against India. The construction of the dam has already started despite the repeated protests by India.
With China building a huge USD 1.2 billion dam over Brahmaputra river in Tibet, it assured New Delhi that the project was not aimed at diverting the river waters to affect the flow to India and other lower riparian countries. The issue of the dam figured high in the fourth round of the India-China strategic dialogue held between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun in Beijing on Tuesday. The issue was raised by Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao. Then she was reassured by Chinese Vice Minister that it was not a project designed to divert the water and affect the welfare and availability of water to the countries in the lower reaches. Beijing maintained that the dam is a power project and is not going to affect people in lower reaches. It also said that China was cooperating with India on hydrological data which is going on since 2003 and would continue to do so. Four experts-level talks have been held to exchange provisions of hydrological data and flood management so far. India was told about the dam initially during the visit of External Affairs Minister S M Krishna in Beijing in April this year. China is building the dam in Brahmaputra for the first time in order to begin the main construction work on a 510 MW hydropower station project. The river was dammed on November 12 to help in the construction of the Zangmu Hydropower Station project in the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra river in Gyaca County of Lhoka Prefecture in Tibet Autonomous Region. The station will have six 85-megawatt generating units, which will bring the total installed capacity to 510 megawatts. It will be the first large hydropower station in Tibet and its first unit will be put into operation in 2014, which will greatly alleviate the power shortage in central Tibet. The hydropower station is about 325 kilometres away from the Tibetan capital Lhasa and its average annual generating capacity is expected to reach 2.5 billion kilowatt hours. Its main function is power generation, but it can also be used for flood control and irrigation. The report of the construction of the dam has raised concerns in India. Though there has been opposition on big dams on the rivers in Arunachal Pradesh, the union forest and environment minister Jairam Ramesh has been repeatedly saying that these dams are strategically important as it gives India bargaining power vis-à-vis China on the Brahmaputra water. However, it is feared that construction of the dam would spell doom for the people of Assam and Arunachal in the monsoon while the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries would dry up during the winter. It is to be mentioned that apart from Assam and Arunachal, the Brahmaputra river also flows through Bangladesh and the country is already raising its concerns over the proposed dam.


Post a Comment