China has approved the construction of three more dams on the Brahmaputra river in Tibet region apart from the Zangmu hydroelectric project that started operations in October, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday.
“The ‘Outline of the 12th Five Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China’ indicates that three more hydropower projects on the main stream of the Brahmaputra river in Tibet autonomous region have been approved for implementation by the Chinese authorities,” Sushma Swaraj said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.
According to her, reports indicate that the Zangmu hydroelectric project that became operational in October is a 510 MW run-of-the river project.
Sushma Swaraj said the Indian government, in close cooperation with various state governments, including the Assam government, which were users of the waters of the Brahmaputra, continued to carefully monitor the water flow in the river for early detection of abnormality so that corrective and preventive measures could be taken to safeguard the livelihood of people of these Indian states.
“Various issues relating to trans-border rivers are discussed with China under the ambit of India-China Expert Level Mechanism (ELM) which was established in 2006,” she said, adding that the ninth meeting of the ELM was held in Beijing in May 2015.
“The Government of India, under the Memorandum of Understanding on Strengthening Cooperation on Trans-border Rivers, signed in October 2013, obtains hydrological data from China on river Brahmaputra.”
The minister said as a lower riparian state with considerable established user rights to the waters of the river, India has conveyed its views and concerns to the Chinese authorities, including at the highest levels of that country.
“India has urged China to ensure that the interests of downstream states are not harmed by any activities in upstream areas,” she said.
Sushma Swaraj also said during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China in May, this matter was discussed.
“The two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation on the provision of flood-season hydrological data and emergency management, and exchange views on other issues of mutual interest through the Expert Level Mechanism,” she added.