As a lower riparian country, India has the right to be worried because dam building on the Brahmaputra by China can have far-reaching impacts on the lives and livelihoods of its people.(AP file photo)
As a lower riparian country, India has the right to be worried because dam building on the Brahmaputra by China can have far-reaching impacts on the lives and livelihoods of its people.(AP file photo)

Convey concerns on China’s dam-building

India must explore all diplomatic and economic options to bring China to the discussion table. But whatever it does, timing will be key to make the right impact
UPDATED ON DEC 02, 2020 12:22 PM IST

The Chinese government will build a “super” dam on the Yarlung Zangbo river’s lower reaches close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tibet, according to a Chinese State media report. The trans-border river, which originates in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), flows into Arunachal Pradesh where it is called Siang, and then to Assam as the Brahmaputra before flowing into Bangladesh. The new dam’s ability to generate hydropower could be three times that of central China’s Three Gorges Dam, which has the largest installed hydropower capacity in the world.

As a lower riparian country, India has the right to be worried because this can have far-reaching impacts on the lives and livelihoods of its people. According to the United Nations, more than half the global population will live in water-stressed or water-scarce countries by 2025, and the vast majority of these people will be in China and India. While China is home to almost 20% of the world population, it has only about 7% of water resources. India is home to about 17% of the world’s population but has less than 4% of water resources. It is dependent on foreign-originating rivers for about a third of its surface water. As both grow economically, water consumption will increase and it will automatically place ever-greater pressure on water supplies. Macro challenges such as the climate crisis and pollution will further strain freshwater resources.

India must explore all diplomatic and economic options to bring China to the discussion table. But whatever it does, timing will be key to make the right impact, says Water Wars: The Brahmaputra River and Sino-Indian Relations, a paper by the US Naval War College. The earlier India pushes back against Chinese dam building, the more options will be available to it in the future.

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