China operationalises its Hydropower station in Tibet
Beijing : China had been working on a heavily invested Hydropower station in Brahmaputra river in Tibet and had begun its operations from the first unit last November. Finally, China today operationalized its fully-functional USD 1.5 billion Zam Hydropower Station, the largest in Tibet, built on the Brahmaputra river, which has raised concerns in India over the likelihood of disrupting water supplies. China Gezhouba Group, a major hydropower contractor based in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province in central China, informed that all six of the station’s units were incorporated into the power grid today, Located in the Gyaca County, Shannan Prefecture, the Station utilizes rich water resources of Brahmaputra known in Tibet as Yarlung Zangbo River, a major river which flows through Tibet into India and later into Bangladesh.The dam – due to its location and design infrastructure – considered to be the world’s highest-altitude hydropower station and the largest of its kind – will produce produces 2.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year.It will alleviate the electricity shortage in central Tibet and empower the development of the electricity-strapped region. It is also an important energy base in central Tibet. Investment of the hydropower station, about 140 kms from Tibetan capital Lhasa, totalled 9.6 billion yuan (about USD 1.5 billion).
Thankfully understanding India’s discomfort over this issue, Operationalising the dam, China said it will take into consideration India’s concerns and will remain in contact with New Delhi on this. Asked about India’s concerns over the dam, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here that the two countries are in touch with each other over the river water issues during high level visits. ‘We will take into consideration the concerns of the Indian side and will remain in contact with them,’ she said.A plan has been chartered out wherein, when electricity would be in excess in summer season, part of the electricity will be transmitted to the neighboring Qinghai province.
An Indian Inter-Ministerial Expert Group (IMEG) on the Brahmaputra in 2013 said the dams were being built on the upper reaches and called for further monitoring considering their impact on the flow of waters to the lower reaches. The IMEG noted that the three dams – Jiexu, Zangmu and Jiacha – which were flowing within 25 kms of each other, are also situated around 550 kms from the Indian border, hence India had been raking up this issue with China for the past few years. Under an understanding reached in 2013, Chinese side agreed to provide more flood data of Brahmaputra from May to October instead of June to October in the previous agreements river water agreements in 2008 and 2010.
India is concerned that if the waters are diverted, then projects on the Brahmaputra, particularly the Upper Siang and Lower Suhansri projects in Arunachal Pradesh, might get affected.