BEIJING: China will use a tributary of the Brahmaputra river in Tibet as part of the construction of a major hydroelectric project, the Indian media reports said on Saturday.
The hydel project may impact water flow of the Brahmaputra into the lower riparian countries including India and Bangladesh.
The Lalho project on Xiabuqu river, a tributary of Yarlung Zangbo (the Tibetan name for Brahmaputra), in Tibet involves an investment of $740 million, a Chinese official was quoted as saying by the media reports on Saturday.
The Brahmaputra flows into Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh from Tibet.
The project, whose construction began in June 2014, was scheduled to be completed in 2019, media reports said.
It is not clear yet what impact the blockade of the river will have on the flow of water from the Brahmaputra into the lower riparian countries such as India and Bangladesh, reports said.
Last year, China had operationalised the $1.5 billion Zam Hydropower Station, the largest in Tibet, built on the Brahmaputra river causing concerns in India.
But China has been maintaining that it has taken into consideration India’s concerns and allays apprehensions of restricting the flow of water, saying its dams are run-of-the-river projects not designed to hold water.
The outline of China’s 12th Five Year Plan indicates that three more hydropower projects on the mainstream of the Brahmaputra river in Tibet Autonomous Region have been approved for implementation.
There is no water treaty between India and China, the countries have, however, established an expert level mechanism on trans-border rivers and in October 2013 the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening cooperation on trans-border rivers under which Beijing provides data to India on the water flows.
The Brahmaputra river water issue comes at a time when India warning Pakistan pulling out of the Indus Water Treaty, after the Uri attack in Indian held Kashmir.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Indus River also originates in Tibet and reaches Pakistan after passing through Indian region.