Construction of Tibet’s first large hydropower station is likely to be the first of more projects to dam the Yarlung Tsangpo or the Brahmaputra that flows into northeast India.
On Thursday, the Global Times said that Fan Xiao, an engineer with the Sichuan bureau of Geological Exploration and Exploration of Mineral Resources, told the paper that the ‘interception of the river was just the beginning of a series of water projects in the region’.
The paper said the 510 MW Zangmu hydropower station ‘would not dramatically impact downstream areas’.
China has assured India that damming the world’s highest river will not divert water flowing to India. Indian officials have no access to the site of the 1.2 billion dollar project in Gyaca county, 325 km southeast of the Tibetan capital Lhasa.
While a latest Xinhua dispatch quoted an official project contractor saying that the river flow would not be stopped during construction, an earlier Chinese media report said ‘the closure of the Yarlung Tsangpo River on November 12 marks the beginning of the construction of the main project of the Zangmu hydropower station.’ On November 15, the China Daily headline said ‘river closed to build Tibet’s hydropower station’.
The station will have six 85-MW power-generating units. In May, HT reported that Chinese engineers were lobbying Beijing to dam the upper Brahmaputra in Tibet with the world’s biggest 38,000 MW hydroelectric project and several smaller dams and tunnels. These plans are not finalised.