Dams and Reservoirs in China are numerous and have had a profound effect on the country’s development and people. According to World Commission on Dams in 2000, there were 22,104 dams over a height of 15m operating in china. Thus China is the leading country in terms of hydroelectricity generation, capacity and number of new developments. In 2012 the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China took over the #1 spot of the largest hydroelectric dam, replacing the Itaipu hydroelectric power plant in Brazil and Paraguay.
China planned to build the 1st downstream “super” hydropower station on its part of Brahmaputra River,( Yarlung Tsangpo), one of the major waters in Asia that passes through India and Bangladesh passing the Line of Actual Control (LAC). This move by China has a far reaching impact on Northeast India’s water security. Yarlung Tsangpo originates in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and flows into Arunachal Pradesh with the name Siang and enters Assam as Brahmaputra before flowing into Bangladesh as Jamuna.
The Super dam will be constructed with the ability to generate hydropower, three times that of the central China’s Three Gorges Dam. From this super power dam 60 million kWh hydropower exploitation is done at the downstream of the Yarlung Tsangpo river that could provide 300 billion kWh of clean, renewable and zero carbon electricity annually. Thus, It will be a historic opportunity for the Chinese Hydropower Industry. The initial work of the dam began on October 16, 2020 signing a Strategic Cooperation Agreement covering the 14th Five Year Plan(2021-2025) with the TAR government.
More than a hydroelectric project it has a great impact on environment , national security, living standards, energy and International cooperation. This project will play a significant role in realising china’s goal of reaching a carbon emission peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2060.
THREAT TO INDIA
China has claimed ownership over Tibet’s waters, making it an upstream controller of seven of South Asia’s mightiest rivers- the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween, Yangtze and Mekong. These rivers flow into Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. Nearly half of that waters,48% runs directly into India. Academics have long pointed out China’s strategic advantage over India in terms of International transboundary rivers. India and China has a water data sharing agreement.
In 2017 China had stopped sharing data soon after the 73 day long standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam near Sikkim border over Chinese military’s plan to build a road close to India’s Chicken neck corridor connecting North-Eastern States.
In 2018, a MoU was signed between India’s Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejunevation and China’s Ministry of Water Resource on sharing hydrological information of the Brahmaputra river in flood season by China to India
China could weaponize cross border rivers. But an expert report quoted that Hydropower projects on cross border rivers cannot be developed without communication and cooperation between upstream and downstream countries