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China gives green light for first flowing dams on Brahmaputra

A draft of China’s new five-year plan (2021-2025), which was formally approved on 11 March, gave the green light for the first dams to be built on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River as the Brahmaputra. Known in Tibet before it flowed into India.

The new five-year plan (FYP) for 2025 and the draft outline of “long-range objectives through the year 2035”, presented before the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s Legislative Assembly, on 5 March, specifically of hydroelectricity Construction refers to the base to reach the lower reaches of the river among priority energy projects over the next five years.

Read also. As per India’s plan, the Brahmaputra is being carefully monitored between China’s dam plans.

The lower reaches refer to sections of the river in Tibet before flowing into India.

Fresh exploitation

The inclusion of the projects in the draft plan suggests that officials gave go-ahead for the first time to begin exploiting low access, marking a new chapter in the hydrological exploitation of the river.

The FYP’s support for the projects also suggests that several long-pending proposals from Chinese hydroelectric companies could be green-lighted to build dams on lower reaches, including near the border with India.

Read also. Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh seeks assurance from China

The draft plan will be formally approved before the NPC session ends on Thursday. The final version is unlikely to undergo major changes as the largely and Communist -controlled legislature rarely overhaul proposals sent before it.

Mentioned on page 30 of a 142-page draft document in Mandarin, at the top of a list of energy-building projects for the next five years – it has not yet been published in English – on low access “to build a hydroelectric base” The call for “reaches the Yarlung Zangbo River”, “clean energy bases” as well as the Jinsha River (upper part of the Yangtze River in western China).

Read also. Study on China’s dams brings to mind the Brahmaputra

Other major projects include construction of coastal nuclear power plants and power transmission channels.

Infrastructure strategy

The high importance given to building the dam at the “lower reaches” of Yarlung Zangbo is outlined in the plan, where it is also mentioned on page 38 of the document, among important planned investments in infrastructure that key national strategies We do.

The project is also listed along the Sichuan-Tibet Railway and the National Water Network.

Chinese media reported in November that the state-owned hydroelectric company POWERCHINA had signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Government of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to “implement hydroelectric exploitation in the Yarlung Zang River downstream”.

Read also. MLA from Arunachal demands hydrological data from China

In 2015, China operated its first hydroelectric project at Xangmu, Tibet, while three other dams are being developed at Dagu, Jiaxu and Jiacha, which are on the upper and middle reaches of the river. While POWERCHINA is not the first hydroelectric company to have carried out the dams’ flow and previous plans have not passed technical feasibility studies due to concerns over environmental impacts, the inclusion of the projects in the FYP draft suggests a high-level clearance. Has been given.

PowerChina chairman Yan Xihyong said last year at a conference of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering, “the plans have no parallel in history” and the river’s bottom offering “a historic opportunity for the Chinese hydropower industry”. Mr. Yan did not mention the location of the planned project, but did talk about the potential offered in the “Great Bend” of the Brahmaputra and the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon of Meadowg County, where the river falls at 2,000m-drop and drop Turns sharply to cross the border into Arunachal Pradesh.

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India has expressed concern to China over the four planned dams on the upper and middle reaches, although Indian officials have said that the dams are unlikely to greatly affect the flow of Brahmaputra flows into India as they are only used for power of water. , And the Brahmaputra is not entirely dependent on the flow in India with an estimated 35% of its basin flow. However, the dams at the lower bend and the great bend cause fresh concern because of the location along the border with Arunachal Pradesh and the possible drift.

Mr. Yan said that the 50-kilometer section in the Great Bend offered 70 million kWh capacity “which is equivalent to more than three Gorge power stations” and “important in realizing China’s goal before reaching the carbon emission peak” The role will play “Carbon Neutrality in 2030 and 2060”, a goal that was mentioned by Premier Li Keqiang on Friday at the inauguration of the NPC and also highlighted in the draft outline.

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