Also known as China’s Yarlung Tsangbo, the river flows from Tibet to Arunachal Pradesh and through Assam to Bangladesh. Indian officials are concerned that Chinese projects may trigger flash floods or cause water shortages.
“It is time to have a large dam in Arunachal Pradesh to reduce the impact of Chinese dam projects,” senior water ministry official TS Thakur said. Mehra told Reuters.
“Our proposal is under consideration at the highest level of government,” said Mehra, adding that the Indian project will create large-scale water storage capacity to offset the flow of Chinese dams.
Diplomatic relations between India and China are in Nadir, with the army being held hostage for months in eastern Ladakh.
Some analysts have warned that the construction of Brahmaputra could become another flash point as Beijing’s dam-building activities get closer to India’s border.
“India is facing China’s land invasion in the Himalayas, maritime encroachments in its backyard and the latest news is a reminder, as well, of water wars,” India-China relations expert Brahma Chellani said in a tweet.
Referring to a senior executive, China’s state media reported on Monday that the country could build a 60-gigawatt hydroelectric capacity in a section of the Brahmaputra.
Speaking at an industrial conference, Yan Yiang, president of the state-owned Power Construction Corporation of China, said the project to dredge the river was a “historic opportunity.”
“Formal, we are telling them (the Chinese) that any project you undertake should not have a negative impact on India. They are assured, but we do not know how long their promise will last,” Mehra said.
Water projects on the great rivers of Asia have been a source of regional tensions in recent years. In Southeast Asia, a series of dams built in Mekong, China, has been accused of exacerbating drought in low-lying countries, which Beijing has denied.
If the Chinese build a dam around the so-called “Great Bend,” Yarlung will turn south before entering India, and the river will receive considerable water there, according to New Delhi-based researcher Sayanangshu Modak. Observer Research Foundation Think-Tank.
However, he said the area is geographically unstable and would challenge potential dam construction.
In Bangladesh, Sheikh Rokan, secretary general of the River People, an environmental campaigner, said China should hold a multi-party debate before constructing any dams.
“China’s bottom-up neighbors have a legitimate reason for concern. Water flow is disrupted,” he said.