China plans dam on Brahmaputra: The way it might influence India, Bangladesh

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China plans dam on Brahmaputra: The way it might influence India, Bangladesh

Reviews of China’s plans to construct a hydropower mission on the Brahmaputra river have triggered issues in each India and Bangladesh. In a bid to safeguard its pursuits, India has introduced its personal plans to assemble a multipurpose reservoir in Arunachal Pradesh which is able to offset the influence of the dam on the Chinese side. Coming in the midst of a tense faceoff in eastern Ladakh, the announcement might open a brand new entrance within the India-China battle sooner or later. However, why is China’s dam development exercise sparking issues in India? This is a glance:

Weaponising water
The mighty Brahmaputra — one of many longest rivers on this planet — flows from Tibet into Arunachal Pradesh, all the way down to Assam and finally Bangladesh.
China, which controls Tibet, acts like an “upper riparian” state that exercises control over the water sources upstream and ignores the issues of countries downstream (India and Bangladesh on this case).
Its weapon of management? Dams.
Dams, canals, and irrigation techniques can flip water right into a political weapon to be wielded in conflict, or throughout peace, for effect over a co-riparian state.
Over time, China has made big investments in constructing dams and averted coming into any water-sharing settlement with downstream international locations like India.
In accordance with a report on the Institute for Defence Research and Analyses (IDSA), China accomplished the Zangmu Dam (510 MW capability) constructed on the higher reaches of the Brahmaputra in 2010. Three extra dams at Dagu (640 MW), Jiacha (320 MW), and Jeixu are currently below development. The work on the Zam hydropower station, which would be the largest dam on the Brahmaputra, commenced in 2015.
Earlier this yr, a US government-funded examination confirmed {that a} collection of latest dams constructed by China on the Mekong river had worsened the drought affecting downstream international locations. China disputed the findings.
Final week, Chinese media reported that the nation is now planning to “implement hydropower exploitation within the downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo River” (the Tibetan identify for Brahmaputra) and the mission might serve to take care of water sources and home safety. China additionally intends to spice up its hydropower capability and is constructing an increasing number of dams on the trans-boundary rivers to realize its hydropower targets.
A scramble for water sources
Each India and China are rising at a speedy tempo and rely closely on water sources to fulfill the spiraling demand.
China has at all times been a water-scarce nation with uneven distribution of its water sources. It constitutes virtually 20% of the worldwide inhabitants however has simply 7% of the water sources. Equally, India has lower than 4% of the worldwide water sources and practically 17% of the worldwide inhabitants. The Brahmaputra river, like most others, originates in China. This makes water sharing between the 2 nations tough.

What provides to the complexity is China’s bold hydrological engineering plan to divert water from south to north. A report by the US-based Center on Irregular Warfare & Armed Groups (CIWAG) mentioned that water division plans on the Chinese portion of the Brahmaputra are essential to the western route.
The report mentioned that as a higher riparian nation, China is ready to make choices that straight have an effect on the quantity of water out there to its downstream neighbors like India, and of the quite a few trans-boundary rivers, the Brahmaputra is very powerful.
Why India is cautious of Chinese dams
India has at all times been suspicious about China’s dam-building exercise, and with good motive.
China has not been forthright about its development of dams and hardly provides info on tasks or long-term plans. A working example: In 2010, after a number of years of denial, Beijing lastly admitted that it is constructing the Zangmu Dam on the Brahmaputra.
Although China has dismissed India’s issues over diversion, hoarding, and launch of water, authorities right here have taken the peace of mind with a pinch of salt. In 2014, the then UPA authorities requested the ministry of water sources to confirm whether or not the dams constructed on the Brahmaputra are literally run-of-river (the place water is launched again after use) or storage dams.
And that is the place lies India’s different concern.
In accordance with the IDSA report, the dams constructed by China are giant sufficient to be was storage dams, which is able to permit it to control the water sources freely for the aim of flood management or irrigation. In such a situation, China can doubtlessly deprive India of water throughout dry seasons.
India can also be apprehensive in regards to the launch of water in the course of the monsoons, which may inundate the already flooded Brahmaputra. As it’s, Assam has been grappling with large floods for a previous couple of monsoons. The state has even raised issues about China’s dam-building exercise with the Centre.
Utilizing knowledge as leverage?
Although there isn’t a water cooperation treaty between India and China, the international locations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2002 for the sharing of hydrological knowledge.
Beneath the MoU, China agreed to share details about the discharge of water at three stations from June 1 to October 15 every year. This was later revised to twice a day between the identical interval. The information is taken into account essential for flood management and planning in the course of the monsoon interval in India. Nevertheless, when relations between the 2 nations soured in the course of the months-long Doklam standoff in 2017, China refused to share this knowledge. The transfer gave rise to fears that it might use its upstream place for strategic leverage. The information-sharing resumed in 2018, however, India now knew that China is not going to hesitate to make use of water as a political weapon if required.
Ecological influence
The ecological influence of China’s dam-building exercise was among the many different issues that Assam had raised with the Centre in 2017. The Assam authorities had mentioned that the Siang river was turning black with pollution and samples of the Brahmaputra at Tezpur revealed that the water contained a considerable amount of mineral properties. Even consultants have identified that dam development might trigger the river to lose its silt and result in a discount in agriculture productiveness.
Safeguarding pursuits
India shouldn’t be taking any probabilities this time and has already begun planning a multipurpose 10,000 MW hydropower mission in Arunachal Pradesh.
“This mission will assist offset the influence of the hydropower mission by China,” T S Mehra, Commissioner (the Brahmaputra and Barak), within the Jal Shakti ministry mentioned.
He defined that the proposed 9.2 BCM ‘Upper Siang’ mission on the Siang river in Arunachal Pradesh will be capable to take the surplus load of water discharge and may even retail water in case of any deficit.
“Formally, we’re telling them (the Chinese) that any mission you undertake, shouldn’t trigger an adversarial influence on India. They’ve given an assurance, however, we do not understand how long their assurance will final,” Mehra mentioned.


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