Friday, November 19, 2010

China defends Brahmaputra dam project amid Indian concern

Terra Daily via AFP: China on Thursday defended its decision to build a dam on the Brahmaputra river in Tibet, amid concerns it could disrupt water supplies downstream in India and harm ecosystems. "In the development of cross-border water resources, China has always had a responsible attitude and places equal emphasis on development and protection," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

He added China took "full consideration of the potential impact on the downstream area." Chinese authorities officially started construction of the dam in Tibet last Friday, state media reported. The Global Times said it would be the first "mega hydroelectric power plant on the Tibetan plateau," and feature six 85-megawatt power-generating units aimed at curbing power shortages in Tibet. The project is expected to cost nearly 7.9 billion yuan (1.2 billion dollars), it said.

But it has stoked concern in India, which worries about the possible impact downstream if the annual flow of water is diverted or reduced. The project has also triggered fears over the environmental impact along the river, which starts high up on the Tibetan plateau and flows east and south in a wide arc before flowing into India, Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal….

The Yarlung Tsangpo river in Tibet. In India it becomes very wide and is called Brahmaputra. Photo by (Luca Galuzzi) *, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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