China is planning a mega dam in Tibet able to produce triple the electrical power generated by the Three Gorges– the world’s largest power station– stoking fears among ecologists and in neighbouring India.
The structure will cover the Brahmaputra River before the waterway leaves the Himalayas and streams into India, straddling the world’s longest and inmost canyon at an altitude of more than 1,500 metres (4,900 feet).
The job in Tibet’s Medog County is expected to overshadow the record-breaking Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in main China, and is billed as able to produce 300 billion kilowatts of electricity each year.
It is discussed in China’s tactical 14th Five-Year Strategy, unveiled in March at an annual rubber-stamp congress of the nation’s leading lawmakers.
The structure will span the Brahmaputra River before the waterway leaves the Mountain ranges and streams into India, straddling the world’s longest and deepest canyon AFP/ STR
However the plan was brief on details, a timeframe or budget.
The river, known as the Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibetan, is likewise home to 2 other jobs far upstream, while six others remain in the pipeline or under building and construction.
The “super-dam” nevertheless remains in a league of its own.
Last October, the Tibet local government signed a “tactical cooperation arrangement” with PowerChina, a public construction business specialising in hydroelectric tasks.
A month later on the head of PowerChina, Yan Zhiyong, partially unveiled the job to the Communist Youth League, the youth wing of China’s ruling party.
The project in Tibet’s Medog County is anticipated to dwarf the record-breaking 3 Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in main China AFP/ STR
Passionate about “the world’s richest area in regards to hydroelectric resources”, Yan described that the dam would draw its power from the huge drop of the river at this particular area.
Beijing may validate the massive project as an environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, however it runs the risk of provoking strong opposition from environmentalists in the very same method as the 3 Gorges Dam, built in between 1994 and 2012.
Map showing major dam jobs on the upper stream of the Brahmaputra River, Yarlung Zangbo. AFP/ Laurence CHU
The 3 Gorges produced a tank and displaced 1.4 million occupants upstream.
” Building a dam the size of the super-dam is likely a really bad idea for lots of reasons,” stated Brian Eyler, energy, water and sustainability program director at the Stimson Center, a United States think tank.
Besides being understood for seismic activity, the area likewise contains a distinct biodiversity. The dam would block the migration of fish along with sediment flow that enhances the soil during seasonal floods downstream, said Eyler.
There are both environmental and political dangers, noted Tempa Gyaltsen Zamlha, an ecological policy specialist at the Tibet Policy Institute, a think tank connected to the Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharamshala, India
“We have a very rich Tibetan cultural heritage in those areas, and any dam construction would trigger environmental destruction, submergence of parts of that region,” he told AFP.
“Many regional citizens would be forced to leave their ancestral houses,” he stated, adding that the task will encourage migration of Han Chinese employees that “gradually ends up being a permanent settlement”.
New Delhi is likewise stressed by the project.
The Chinese Communist Party is effectively in a position to control the origins of much of South Asia’s water supply, experts state.
“Water wars are an essential part of such warfare because they enable China to utilize its upstream Tibet-centred power over the most vital natural resource,” wrote political scientist Brahma Chellaney last month in the Times of India.
The risks of seismic activity would also make it a “ticking water bomb” for locals downstream, he warned.
In response to the dam idea, the Indian government has actually drifted the prospect of developing another dam on the Brahmaputra to shore up its own water reserves.
“There is still much time to negotiate with China about the future of the super-dam and its impacts,” said Eyler.
“A bad outcome would see India build a dam downstream.”