Flood Fears Rise as China Builds Dam on Brahmaputra

  • China has announced that it has completed a major hydropower dam on the Brahmaputra, called Yarlung Zangbo, in Tibet.
  • The dam is bound to enhance fears in India and Bangladesh about flash floods
  • India has repeatedly expressed concern about the dangers of damming the Brahmaputra, one of the strongest Himalayan rivers, in upstream areas in Tibet.
  • China has routinely responded saying its plans were restricted to run-off-the-river dams focussed on generating electricity, which posed little danger.
  • Indian officials have so far been satisfied by Beijing's explanations, not realizing China was actually building a massive project that would affect the river's flow into Arunachal Pradesh and other parts of the north-eastern region of India
  • Announcing that Tibet's largest hydropower station had become partly operational, Beijing said it would be useful in harnessing the rich water resources of the Yarlung Zangbo river
  • Harnessing would  empower the development of the electricity-strapped region.
  • The first section of the $1.5 billion Zangmu Hydro power Station, which is over 3,300m above sea level on the “roof of the world“, went into operation .
  • Five other sections are due for completion no later than next year.
  • The Chinese government described it as a “huge project, which straddles the middle reaches of the roaring Yarlung Zangbo river, which will have power capacity of 510,000kw after its four-year construction.
  • The project is designed to generate 2.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually.
  • Official statistics showed that Tibet's per capita electricity consumption in 2013 was slightly over 1,000 kilowatt hours, less than one third of the average in China.
  • Zangmu is one of the five projects planned on the Brahmaputra to generate a total of 2,000mw of hydro power.
  • Environmentalists opposed to the project have asked why China wants to unsettle fragile ecology in the Tibetan region.