India is considering the ambitious plans to protect areas surrounding the Brahmaputra river in response to reported projects by China. Indian authorities, who fear China’s plans could cause flash flooding of water scarcity, could build a 10-gigawatt hydropower dam, Reuters reports.
The river, also known as the Yarlung Tsangpo in China, flows from Tibet into India’s Arunachal Pradesh state and down through Assam to Bangladesh.
The site could pose another source of major tension between the two nations as their troops have been locked in a border standoff in the Himalayas for months.
T.S. Mehra, a senior official in India’s federal water ministry, told Reuters: “The need of the hour is to have a big dam in Arunachal Pradesh to mitigate the adverse impact of the Chinese dam projects.”
Brahma Chellaney, a commentator on India and China’s relationship, said on Twitter: “India is facing China's terrestrial aggression in the Himalayas, maritime encroachments on its backyard and, as the latest news is a reminder, even water wars.
The Brahmaputra river
Indian Army vehicles drive on a road near Chang La high mountain pass in northern India's Ladakh
“Note the ominous India-border-related references to "downstream" and the river's "Grand Canyon.
“China has long eyed the bounteous water resources of the Brahmaputra's Great Bend, which boasts the world’s steepest and longest canyon.
“I have been saying for more than a decade that China's dam building will gradually move from midstream to the Great Bend near the India border.”
Yan Zhiyong, chairman of state-owned Power Construction Corporation of China, described damming plans as an “historic opportunity”.
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China has long eyed the bounteous water resources of the Brahmaputra's Great Bend, which boasts the world’s steepest and longest canyon. I have been saying for more than a decade that China's dam building will gradually move from midstream to the Great Bend near the India border.— Brahma Chellaney (@Chellaney) November 30, 2020
China has also offered its support to Nepal which is also in a border dispute with India.
General Wei Fenghe, China’s defence minister, also met Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Tuesday to sign a new military deal.
India recently gifted Myanmar a submarine to counter China’s growing influence over the east.
In June, 20 Indian soldiers died in battle at the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the steep Himalayan slopes.
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The situation at the LAC in Eastern Ladakh is a tense standoff, and the recent clash is the first to result in deaths for 45 years.
The countries first went to war over the boundary in 1962 and there has been no lasting resolution.
The 1962 truce introduced a 2,100-mile-long stretch of Himalayan land between the countries and no official border has been negotiated.
In October, India captured a Chinese soldier after he strayed across the LAC.
Russia fears the standoff could destabilise the region and has called for a de-escalation.