“The new plans involve the diversion of water from the Brahmaputra to the upper reaches of the north-western Chinese province of Xinjiang which has recently experienced serious droughts.
The plans follow the announcement in 2010 that China is building a hydroelectric project near the ‘great bend’ in the Yarlung Tsangpo, as the Brahmaputra is called in Tibet. The hydroelectric dam is the biggest in the world and will have an electrical capacity almost half that of the UK National Grid.
The Brahmaputra originates in south-western Tibet and flows through southern Tibet, breaking through the Himalayas and into Arunachal Pradesh in India. It flows south-west through the Assam Valley then South through Bangladesh. It merges with the Padma River in the Ganges Delta, before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
The river is hugely important for irrigation and transportation in the region, and is highly susceptible to channel migration. The lower reaches are sacred to Hindus.
The level of apprehension in India is particularly high because of China’s level of secrecy regarding water flows. China refuses to enter into any water-sharing agreement with its neighbours and in the past major dam building and diversionary projects have only become public when spotted on satellite pictures of the region.”
Read more: Left Foot Forward