In a move that may concern India, China has blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra river in Tibet as part of the construction of its “most expensive” hydro project .
The step may impact water flows into the lower riparian countries.
The Lalho project on Xiabuqu river, a tributary of Yarlung Zangbo, the Tibetan name for Brahmaputra, in Xigaze in Tibet involves an outlay of 4.95 billion yuan ($740 million), Zhang Yunbao, head of the project’s administration bureau was quoted as saying by a news agency.
Xigaze is closely located to Sikkim. From Xigaze, the Brahmaputra flows into Arunachal Pradesh.
The report added that the construction of the project, which began in June 2014, was scheduled to be completed in 2019.
It is not clear yet what impact blockade of the river will have on the flow of water from the Brahmaputra into the like India and Bangladesh as a result, it said.
Last year, China operationalised the Zam Hydropower Station, the largest in Tibet, built on the Brahmaputra river, which has raised apprehensions in India.
However, China has been stressing that it has taken concerns in board and allays worries of restricting the flow of water, saying its dams are run of the river projects not designed to hold water.
The framework of China’s 12th Five Year Plan specifies that three more hydropower projects on the mainstream of the Brahmaputra river in Tibet Autonomous Region have been ratified for operation.
In March, Union Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat had said in a statement that India had expressed its concerns to China about the possible impact of the dams.
While there is no water treaty between both countries, India and China formed an Expert Level Mechanism (ELM) on trans-border rivers and in October 2013 the two governments signed a treaty on strengthening cooperation on trans-border rivers under which Beijing delivers data to India on the water flows.
Blockade of the Brahmaputra river tributary comes at a time when India’s reported step to suspend talks with Pakistan under Indus Water Treaty as part of its plans to hit back at Pakistan after the Uri attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed.