India fears a mammoth megadam built in China could be used as a hydro weapon.
The Chinese Communist Party has announced the construction of the world’s largest dam on Yarlung Tsangpo, which flows through China and India.
China hopes the dam will solve its green energy problem and help it achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2060 Daily star Reports.
However, India is said to be afraid that China could build up a huge damming of water behind the dam and then threaten to release it, devastating the Indian communities.
Dr. Ruth Gamble, a historian on Tibet and Himalayas at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, said the fears stem from recent clashes between India and China.
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The Yarlung Tsangpo River is the highest major river on earth and flows nearly 3000 km through China, India and Bangladesh.
The proposed dam will take advantage of “The Great Bend,” a dramatic 180-degree hairpin that drops instantly to an elevation gain of 2,000 feet, reports news.com.au.
It will produce three times more electricity than the largest dam in existence – the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze.
Officials in India, who have been essentially at war with China over its controversial land border since the 1960s, however, fear that this could be used for something far more sinister – which could potentially add to tensions if the project continues.
Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the region last year over disputes along one of the world’s longest borders, the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which separates the two nations.
Last June, at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a “violent clash” with Chinese forces along the controversial Himalayan border, in which soldiers beat each other to death with fists and stones.
Tensions between India and China have not eased, and now two armies sit on the border right next to where China plans to build its megadam.
Dr. Ruth Gamble, a historian of Tibet and Himalayas at La Trobe University, told ABC News Channel this week that India is concerned that the dam will “essentially become a hydro weapon for the Chinese.”
She said the fear is that China could build up water behind it and then threaten to release it.
“I don’t think the Chinese want to do that, but because there isn’t very good communication between the two sides, we get a lot of fear and paranoia on the Indian side as well.” She said.
Experts believe the project would also cause ecological damage to one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, destroy sacred sites for Tibetans and hit the communities downstream.
After building more than 20,000 dams over 15 m over the past 70 years, hydropower is China’s second largest source of energy after coal.
However, the latest plan is viewed by many analysts as too advanced as it would be the riskiest construction project ever.
They say the remote region is barely accessible with the heavy equipment necessary to build a megadam and is in a highly active seismic area, not far from the epicenter of one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded.
Fatal landslides are commonplace in this part of the world too and would only be invited by a huge construction project.
The Yarlung Tsangpo is a transnational river system that becomes the Brahmaputra River in India and provides 30% of the country’s water. It is feared that the Megadam project could reduce flows to India by 60%.