After China unveiled three new projects on the Brahmaputra, India has urged Beijing to ensure that interests of the downstream states shouldn’t be ‘harmed’.
Earlier this month, China’s State Council approved an energy plan for the 12th Five Year plan which listed three new hydropower projects on the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) river. The projects were announced despite a moratorium on building new dams on the river which flows through India and Bangladesh.
In its first reaction, Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said the government ‘carefully monitors all developments’ on the river.
“As a lower riparian state with considerable established user rights to the waters of the river, India has conveyed its views and concerns to the Chinese authorities, including at the highest levels of the government of the People’s Republic of China,” he said.
“India urges China to ensure that the interests of downstream states are not harmed by any activities in upstream areas,” he said.
There is a bilateral mechanism to share information on trans-border rivers through a working group. Bangladesh has not officially commented on the new projects yet.
China is already constructing a 510 megawatt hydropower project at Zangmu on the Yangmu river, which had been a source of concern for the north-eastern states. But India had been told by China that the project was a run-of-the-river project, which will not affect the water flow. This was later verified by satellite photos.
“Any new projects have to go through the scientific planning and study, with the consideration of the interests of both lower and upper stream countries,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday.