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China dam move under Indian scanner

October 16, 2009

Kalyan Barooah
Assam Tribune
October 16, 2009

NEW DELHI, Oct 15 -- India today said it is
verifying reports of China building a number of
dams on the main stream of the river Brahmaputra
and trying to ascertain whether there were recent
developments to suggest any change in China’s
position. The reaction came after reports that
China was seeking to dam the main stream in the
middle reaches of Brahmaputra river called Yarlung Zangpo in Tibet.

An official spokesman said keeping in mind that
the river is an economic resource for the
development of the local communities in the two
countries, India and China had agreed in November
2006 to establish an Expert Level Mechanism to
discuss trans-border river issues in an
institutional way. Three meetings have been held so far.

During these meetings, the Indian side has taken
up with the Chinese side, reports about the
construction of a large-scale dam or diversion project in the Brahmaputra.

The Chinese side has categorically denied that
there is a plan to build any such large-scale
diversion project on the Brahmaputra river.

Such a project may have significant impact on the
socio-economic condition of people living
downstream. The Indian side has also expressed
the hope that the Chinese side will not undertake
such a large-scale project or divert the waters of the Brahmaputra River.

"The Brahmaputra flows for about 1625 kilometre
inside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of the
People’s Republic of China and for a further 918 kilometre inside India.

Latest reports of China undertaking construction
of a series of dams in Tibetan Autonomous Region
(TAR) should be alarming for Arunachal Pradesh,
where a number of hydro-electric projects have
been cleared for construction on Brahmaputra
river and tributaries including Subansiri, Siang,
Dihangh and Debang to name a few.

According to a report in the official China
Daily, Gezhouba Group Corporation has won a
$167-million contract to build the 510-MW Zangmu
hydroelectric project in China’s TAR.

The Zangmu Water Power Station, the first of a
series of five dams planned is on the main stream
of the middle reaches of Brahmaputra River. The
project is located in Lhokha (Shannan) Prefecture
of Tibet Autonomous Region, about 140 km southeast from Lhasa.

The contract, from China Huaneng Group’s Tibet
Power Generation Company Limited, has
commissioned China Gezhouba to design and build
the project on the middle reach of the Yarlung
Zangpo river. The contract is to run through
December 2015. The Project is estimated to cost over US$1 billion.

China Gezhouba subsidiary No Five Engineering
Company Limited is to provide concrete and
aggregate processing services for Zangmu project in TAR.

Regional Governor Qiangba Puncog was quoted in
the report, as saying that the regional
government planned to build several large
hydroelectric projects on the Yarlung Zangbo,
Nujiang, Lancang, and Jinsha rivers to help ease
Tibet’s electricity shortage with clean hydropower.

Congress Party’s Lok Sabha MP, Takam Sanjay
addressing a press conference to oppose China’s
claim on Arunachal Pradesh, here today, when
asked about China’s new design, said flow of the
most of the tributaries that flow into India is
unlikely to disturbed. “We have enough tributaries,” he added.

"I don’t think China can act arbitrarily
violating established protocol," he opined.

Hydropower potential of Arunachal Pradesh is
estimated at 50,000 MW of which only 400 MW has
been tapped. The Government-owned National Hydro
Power Corporation is working on six projects,
with an estimated capacity of 10,000 MW.

The NHPC too has firmed up investments of to the
tune Rs 70,000 crore till 2020 to scale up its capacity to 20,000 MW.

Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Arunachal Pradesh MP
announced that a high-power delegation led by
Chief Minister Dorji Khandu is arriving in Delhi
to meet the Prime Minister on October 19 to protest China’s claim on his State.

The delegation that is expected to include
ministers, MLAs and MPs is going to ask the UPA
Government to be ‘very’ assertive. "But that
doesn’t mean we should snap diplomatic ties with
Beijing. “Dialogue should go on,” he said.

Meanwhile, the MP said Dalai Lama’s visit to
Tawang is on. This will be his forth visit to
Tawang and his visit has to do with spiritual
healing. He is a religious figure and not a political figure.

Observing that infrastructure facilities should
be strengthened, Takam Sanjay called for
launching of ‘Arunachal Pradesh Scouts’, because
the people were familiar with the local topography.

The latest standoff between India and China over
the later’s claim over territory of Arunachal
Pradesh threatens to snowball into a major diplomatic row.
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