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11/11/2016 China'sLalhoDamProject:ShouldIndiaworry?

ClearIAS

ChinasLalhoDamProject:ShouldIndiaworry?
clearias.com/lalhoproject/

ClearIASTeam 10/8/2016

ThenextworldwarwillbeoverwaterIsmailSerageldin,WorldBankVicePresident.

AtatimewhenthereisongoingtensionbetweenIndiaandPakistanoverwatersharing(readIndusWater
Treaty),Chinatooisaddinguppressure.ChineseDamsandHydroelectricprojectsinBrahmaputraisbecoming
anincreasingconcernforIndia.

LalhoProject
ChinaisconstructingtheirmostexpensivehydroprojectLalhoprojectinatributaryofriverBrahmaputra
(knowninChinaasYarlungZangbo).TheBrahmaputra,oneofIndiasmajorrivers,originatesinTibet(China)
andflowsintoIndia(ArunachalPradeshandAssam)beforegoingintoBangladesh.

TheConstructionoftheLalhohydroelectricprojectoriginallybeganinJune2014.
ThisProjectinvolvesaninvestmentof4.95billionyuan(USD740million).
TheLalhoprojectisplannedatXiabuquriver,atributaryofBrahmaputra,atXigaze(TibetAutonomous
Region)inChina.
XigazealsoknownasShigatseiscloselylocatedtoSikkim.FromXigaze,theBrahmaputraflowsinto
ArunachalPradesh.
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11/11/2016 China'sLalhoDamProject:ShouldIndiaworry?ClearIAS

LalhoProjectwillservesmultiplepurposes,suchasirrigation,floodcontrolandpowergeneration.
TheLalhoprojectislikelytobefinishedby2019.

ChinasLalhoDamProject:Whyinnewsnow?
ChinawasblockingtheXiabuqutributary(195kmlong).
XiabuqustartsinTibetandjoinsBrahmaputraatXigaze.
TheprojectcanimpactwaterflowsinIndia.

IndiaiscommissioningastudytoascertainhowmuchtheYarlungZangbo,actuallycontributestoflowsin
IndiaandhowmuchcomesfromthecatchmentareainIndiaitself.
ManyexpertsestimatethattheTibetcontributionisnotmorethan40percent.
Theriversmeandischargeis25.8cubicmeterspersecond(cumecs),lessthan0.15percentofthe
BrahmaputrasmeandischargewhenitentersinIndia.
Thereservoirwasdesignedtostoreupto295millioncubicmetersofwater.
Indiaisconcernedthatifthewatersarediverted,thenprojectsontheBrahmaputra,particularlytheUpper
SiangandLowerSuhansriprojectsinArunachalPradesh,maygetaffected.
Thedammayimpacttheflowofsiltaswell,whichisessentialtobuildupNorthEasternPlains.
ChinahasbeenmaintainingthatithastakenintoconsiderationIndiasconcernsandallaysapprehensions
ofrestrictingtheflowofwater,sayingitsdamsarerunoftheriverprojectsnotdesignedtoholdwater.
IndiaandChinahavehadseveralroundsoftalksonthewaterissuesince2007andBeijinghasalways
attemptedtoplaydownNewDelhisfearsthatitcouldusestrategicallypositioneddamstoregulatewater
flowsintoIndia.
IndiahasbeentakinguptheissuewithChinaforthepastfewyears.Andbasedontheunderstanding
reachedin2013,theChinesesideagreedtoprovidemoreflooddataofBrahmaputra.
Someexpertssaythat,theLalhoprojectmaynotreducewaterflowtoIndiainthelongrun,butitmayadd
uptodesertificationinTibetandXigazeregionitself.
TheLalhoprojectiswellupstreamofthegreatbendmadebytheBrahmaputrashortlybeforeitenters
India.OthertributariesjoiningtheBrahmaputrainandaroundthegreatbenddoubleitswaterflowbefore
theArunachalPradeshborder.LargertributariesjointheriverinIndia,sothatitcarrieseighttimesmore
waterwhenitexitsthecountrythanwhenitenters.

Alsoread:GovernmentBudgeting:IndianBudgetforBeginners

Notthefirstdam!

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11/11/2016 China'sLalhoDamProject:ShouldIndiaworry?ClearIAS

ThisisnotthefirsttimethatChinatriedtoaltertheflowofrivers,flowingthroughIndia.Theyarelistedasbelow:

ChinasfirstdamonthemainupperreachesoftheBrahmaputrawasbuiltatZangmuin2010.
Laterin20112015,theapprovalforthreemoredamsatDagu,Jiacha,andJeixu(smallscaleprojects)
weregivenontheriverBrahmaputra,inTibetAutonomousRegion.
In2015,ChinaoperationalizedthelargesthydelprojectinTibet,ZamHydropowerStation,builtonthe
riverBrahmaputra.

WhatisZamHydropowerStation(ZangmuHydropowerStation)?

Chinahasoperationalized$1.5billionfortheZamHydropowerStation(2015)whichhasignitedconcerns
inIndiaoverthelikelihoodofdisruptionofwatersupplies.
ThedamhasalsoraisedconcernsinIndiaoverChinasabilitytoreleasewaterintimesofconflict,which
couldposeseriousriskofflooding.
TheZamHydropowerStation,consideredtobetheworldshighestaltitudehydropowerstationandthe
largestofitskind,willproduce2.5billionKWhoursofelectricityayear.

NowatertreatiesbetweenChinaandIndia!
Thereisnowatertreatybetweenthecountries,butthecountrieshasdevisedanExpert
LevelMechanism(ELM)ontransborderrivers.
DuringthevisitofthePresidentofChinatoIndiainNovember2006,itwasagreedtosetupanExpert
LevelMechanismtodiscussinteractionandcooperationonprovisionoffloodseasonhydrologicaldata,
emergencymanagement,andotherissuesregardingtransborderriversasagreedbetweenthem,under
whichBeijingprovidesdatatoIndiaonthewaterflows.
TheExpertLevelMechanismfromIndiansideisledbyCommissioner,aJointSecretarylevelofficer.

Alsoread:CentrallySponsoredSchemes(CSS)

Summary
RegardingtheLalhoProject,ifitisdesignedasarunoftheriverprojectasstatedbyChinaitisunlikelyto
affectIndiasinterestsinthelongrun.

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11/11/2016 China'sLalhoDamProject:ShouldIndiaworry?ClearIAS

ButIndianeedsmoreclarityanddataregardingChineseHydroelectricprojects.
ExpertLevelMechanismhasagreaterroletoplayinwaterdisputes.
WaterresourcesexpertsinIndiasaythathydropowerprojectsonYarlungZangbohavethepotentialto
sweepawayhighlandsettlementsandforestsandburythelowlandsinsilt.
Acaseinpointisthe2001disasterafteranartificialdaminTibetgaveawaytokill26peopleand
damagedpropertyworthRs140crorealongriverSianginArunachalPradesh.
Asingledamaloneisunlikelytobedangerous,butreleaseofexcesswaterfromalldamssimultaneously
willbedevastating.

References:

1.HindustanTimes.
2.TimesofIndia.
3.MinistryofWaterResources,GovernmentofIndia.
4.IndiaToday.
5.IndianExpress.
6.EconomicTimes.

Articleby:PriyankaSunil

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