Brahmaputra: Panel alert on China projects

An inter-ministerial expert panel on the Brahmaputra has asked the government to intensify monitoring construction projects in the middle reaches of the river by China. It has also cautioned that China may replicate the same in the Great

Bend area.

The panel in its recent report to a committee of secretaries said China is carrying out a series of cascading run-of-river projects in the middle of the river. The report noted that there are reasons to believe that Jiacha could be the next power project on the mainstream of the river. It may be followed by projects at three other sites, Lengda, Zhongda, Langzhen, where dam-related peripheral infrastructural activity, including construction of four new bridges has gathered momentum.

China seems keen to construct projects in the Great Bend area as a viable alternative to a single mega project, the group said. It opined that Dagu and Jiexu, which lie in the main course of the river, are likely to witness industrial development. Enhanced industrial activity have been found at Nangxian, while constant upgradation of the Bome-Medog Road that passes through the Great Bend area has been observed, it added.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had conveyed his concerns over the Chinese proposal to construct three dams across the river during his first meeting with the new President of China, Xi Jinping, in Durban last month on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.

However, the Chinese leader had reportedly assured Singh that "they were conscious of their responsibilities and the interest of the lower riparian countries". China is open to the issue of looking into the demand for a joint mechanism for a verification of Chinese projects on the Brahmaputra, he had said.

The panel report said the activities at Jiexu, Dagu, Lengda, Zhongda, Langzhen and Nangxian may be taken up at an appropriate level with with China. The area on the other side of the basin, including Tongia, Changxu, Qilong, Xierga and Renda, would be monitored once China finished the work on the middle route of the South-North Diversion Project, it said. The water resources ministry is understood to be studying the provisions of existing environmental treaties and conventions.

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