India is building reservoirs on the Brahmaputra river – known as Yarlung Zangbo in China – to bolster its “control” over disputed Arunachal Pradesh, the article quoted in People’s Daily-owned Global Times said.
The two neighbours, who share a long and disputed border, a mechanism to exchange data on trans-border rivers including information on the measurement of water flows.
The article noted that China has begun building dams in Tibet, which could potentially be used to control water flow into India but dismisses the misgivings as fantasy.
“China has already begun to develop Tibet's water resources on the Yarlung Zangbo River, and the first unit at the Zangmu Hydropower Station is scheduled to start operation in 2014,” Li Zhifei with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, considered the Chinese government’s top think-tank, wrote.
“The Indians think of the Brahmaputra River as a lifeline, especially since it is a main tributary of the sacred Ganges River. If China stores water at the upper stream, there will be less water flowing through India, causing negative effects on the water use for its industrial and agricultural sectors which are mainly located in the basin of the Ganges river,” Li said.
But it’s actually India which is trying to make the most from the 16 rivers that the two countries share, the author indicated.
“India plans to build reservoirs and canal systems on the Brahmaputra River with an intention to transfer ‘surplus’ water to regions with water shortages. Furthermore, India has already set up dozens of hydropower stations in the so-called Arunachal Pradesh, attempting to reinforce its actual control and occupation of the disputed area,” Li wrote.
The author himself raised some of the concerns that the Indian government has on the water issue – like increasing water flow to India’s strategic disadvantage during a conflict – only to dismiss them.
“The country also contends that China will probably carry out interceptions during dry seasons and discharges during rainy days as means to impose pressure on the Indian government, and that once a conflict takes place, Beijing is likely to raise water levels to cut off communications or drown enemy troops,” Li forecast.
Li quickly added: “China stresses peaceful rise, and tries to build up a win-win situation…
Beijing adopts a rational and restricted attitude toward India's domestic attacks on China's utilisation of water resources.”
India, on the other hand, “…expects to put more pressure on China by exaggerating the facts and drawing attention from the international community, with the intention of preventing China from developing Tibetan water resources."