China builds world's highest dam, India fears water theft
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - China has admitted that it is building a dam on the Yarlung Zangbo River. The river originates in Tibet, but then flows into India where it is called Brahmaputra and is a major water source for millions of people. Moreover, the dam will be built in the area near the border disputed between the two countries.
China outlined the project this month, in a private meeting with Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna. The dam will be built in Zangmu at a height of 3,260 meters, in the Shannan Prefecture in Tibet and nearby four other dams will also be built in the valley between Jiacha and Sangro counties. Official sources said yesterday that the overall capacity of the dams will be "several times" more than the gigantic Three Gorges Dam. Because of its altitude, the area is often subjected to extreme weather conditions and special materials and technologies will be used, developed by the Chinese space agency. For example special cement made at the laboratories of the Xichang satellite launch Centre.
Beijing plans to draw from the Dangmu dam no less than 500 megawatts of electricity to meet the growing demand for Guangdong and Hong Kong and sell it to neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, Laos and Cambodia.
India is however very worried about the plan, fearing a decrease in the flow of the river water in India and the destruction of the Himalayas ecosystem. Above all the agriculture and industry of the north-eastern states of India depend heavily on the Brahmaputra river.
In addition, with this project China will directly control more than 90 thousand square meters of land the sovereignty of which is disputed between India and China, who fought a war that has never formally ended and who still station armed forces in the area. China responds that the dam will allow it to develop clean energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions resulting from coal fired power plants.
Experts say that, however, Beijing has not responded to Indian concerns over the decline of the Brahmaputra river. Indian sources have observed that even if the dam is located in Chinese territory, however, international law provides that the work should not diminish the course of the river. Similarly, Beijing has never responded to the concerns of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia over the Chinese dams on the Mekong River in Yunnan.
India appears on the brink of raising its concerns at an international level.