China should consider safety of downstream countries, says CM on China’s hydropower plan

Staff Reporter

ITANAGAR, Dec 1: Chief Minister Pema Khandu said that whatever China does should be done “considering safety measures,” so that it does not affect the Siang belt in Arunachal, or Assam.

He was responding to a query on the report that appeared in China’s Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper that China is planning to build a hydropower project on the Yarlung Zangbo (Tsangpo) river.

Yarlung Tsanpo is the Siang river in Arunachal.

“We are not allowed to comment much on international matters, but the Indian government already knows about it and the external affairs ministry will definitely deal with it,” the CM said.

Quoting the chairman of the Power Construction Corp of China, or POWERCHINA, which is the Chinese government agency for hydropower, the Global Times reported that China will implement hydropower exploitation in the downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo river in Tibet.

POWERCHINA chairman Yan Zhiyong is reported to have made the comment on Thursday to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering.

Sixty million kWh hydropower exploitation downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo river could provide 300 billion kWh of clean, renewable and zero-carbon electricity annually, the paper reported, quoting Zhiyong.

“It is a project for national security, including water resources and domestic security,” the POWERCHINA chairman said, noting that the project will also ensure smooth cooperation with South Asia, the Global Times reported.

The report of the proposed project in the downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo has been received with apprehension in Arunachal and elsewhere.

Congress MLA Ninong Ering, Neeraj Vagholikar of the environment research and advocacy group Kalpavriksh, activist Jarjum Gamlin Ete, Forum for Siang Dialogue spokesperson Vijay Taram and researcher Chintan Sheth highlighted the potential and serious downstream impacts on the Siang in Arunachal and the Brahmaputra floodplains in Assam.

Though researchers differ in their views, natural upstream activities, including earthquakes in Tibet, are reported to have caused changes in the flow of water as well as increased sediment load and blackened the Siang in the winter of 2017.