China gives green light for first downstream dams on Brahmaputra

China gives green light for first downstream dams on Brahmaputra

A draft of China’s new Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), which is set to be formally approved on March 11, has given the green light for the first dams to be built on the lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo river, as the Brahmaputra is known in Tibet, before it flows into India.

The draft outline of the new Five-Year Plan (FYP) for 2025 and “long range objectives through the year 2035”, submitted before the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s ceremonial legislature, on March 5, specifically mentions the building of hydropower bases on the lower reaches of the river as among the priority energy projects to be undertaken in the next five years.

The inclusion of the projects in the draft plan suggests the authorities have given the go-ahead to begin tapping the lower reaches for the first time, which marks a new chapter in the hydropower exploitation of the river.

The FYP’s backing for the projects also suggests that a number of long-pending proposals from Chinese hydropower companies to build dams on the lower reaches, including near the border with India, may be given the green light.

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

On the top of a list of energy construction projects for the next five years, mentioned on page 30 of the 142-page draft document in Mandarin — it has not yet been published in English — calls for “building a hydropower base on the lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo river”, along with “clean energy bases” in the upper and lower reaches of Jinsha river (the upper course of Yangtze river in western China).

News Source: The Hindu

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