NEW DELHI, Nov 24 � Amidst growing concerns, India is keeping a close watch on the construction of the mega hydropower project on the Brahmaputra river in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in China. Beijing has begun generating electricity from Tibet�s biggest ever hydropower project.
The dam on the Yarlung Zangbo river - known as Brahmaputra in India, where it is a major waterway - will be 116 metres (381 feet) high when completed next year, according to Chinese media reports.
However, India has opted to tread cautiously in the matter. Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said today that New Delhi had been aware the dam was �coming up�. �The Chinese have told us that it should have no implication for us,� he said.
India had previously expressed concern about damming the Brahmaputra, which is likely to adversely impact the North Eastern States.
The first generating unit of the $1.6 billion Zangmu Hydropower Station, which stands more than 3,300 metres above sea level, went into operation on Sunday, China�s official Xinhua news aency said. It will have a total generating capacity of 5,10,000 kilowatts, Xinhua said, making it the largest dam ever built on the Tibetan plateau.
India has been urging China �to ensure that the interests of downstream states are not harmed by any activities in upstream areas� of the Brahmaputra river, after state media reported that China has planned several more dams there.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, �The hydropower stations China builds will not affect the flood prevention and ecological system of downstream areas.� Chinese media showed photographs of the Tibetan dam - a large concrete structure that did not appear to have flooded an area significantly wider than the river�s original span.
The Centre has constituted a Committee of Secretaries headed by the Union Cabinet Secretary to monitor the situation. Recently, the Centre instructed the Arunachal Pradesh government to ensure that hydro projects are not stopped midway �due to actions of a few interested groups.�
India�s case is to establish right of use by utilising the water for generating power. Among the major projects that India needs to start is setting up of the Upper Siang project. Public sector undertaking NTPC Ltd finalised the pre-feasibility report for a proposed 9,750 MW Siang Upper hydroelectric project.