Dam on Brahmaputra


  • ZAM Hydropower station commissioned. Other projects like Dagu, Jiacha & Jiexu in different stages of planning and construction
  • Bilateral G2G interaction on Brahmaputra is shrouded in Bureaucratic secrecy, overshadowed with baggage of 1962 war and the ensuing territorial contestation over Arunachal Pradesh
  • Track 2 , Track 3 level dialogue process to enable greater people to people interactions, reducing trust deficit, changing the way Indians and Chinese talk, think and approach solutions.
  • Need is to share information, public debate, joint management of River in sustainable manner
  • Framework of engagement and dialogue is needed among co-riparian countries
  • BCIM cooperation framework can create a enabling environment
  • South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary water resources studies (SaciWaters) based in Hyderabad has a flagship programme “The Brahmaputra Dialogue” aiming at multi-stakeholder dialogue fostering trans-boundary water management.
  • Consequences of Lack of Dialogue:
    • Rising tension, Speculation and apprehensions among riparian countries as well as between provincial governments within India e.g. Arunachal and Assam
  • Way Forward:
    • Holistic river basin management
    • Trans-boundary joint river basin research
    • Enable discussion among river basin stakeholders
    • Formal mechanism between governments
Renewal of 2013 MoU on joint water management which helps India and china share data on multiple Himalayan rivers for better water management. Sharing of data during flood period helps emergency management and better planning.
China’s Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) initiative
Why in news?
Severe drought has occurred in south east asia and the main reason for this is rapid construction of dam by China at upstreams. Now Beijing is trying to legitimatise it by releasing water to drought hit nation in Lower Mekong river basin i.e. China is touting the utility of its upstream structures in fighting droughts and floods.
What is it?
CHINAs Lancang -Mekong Cooperation initiative aims to undermine the efforts of regional Mekong commission and USAs lower Mekong initiative of ensuring equitable distribution of international rivers waters. It is doing so by:
  • Constructing numerous dams on upstream transnational rivers like Indus, Brahmaputra, Mekong and amur.
  • Development of high end hydrological engineering unparalleled across the world
  • Not joining legally binding Mekong treaty 1995  and keeping its options open
  • Controlling Tibet and Xinjiang region from where numerous rivers originate
  • Shift of focus from dam saturated national rivers(e.g. -yellow river) to international ones.(e.g. – recent 4200 MW dam on Mekong)
Why China doing this?
  • It helps China use such control as political weapon increasing its influence and bargaining power in SE Asia, ASEAN, South china sea disputes and border disputes.
  • Keeps downstream nations(e.g.-Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam etc.) on China’s goodwill and mercy furthering China’s hegemony in the region
  • Prevents collaboration, consensus, compulsory hydrological data sharing and binding commitments giving license to China to build dams wherever and whenever they want
  • Also it prevents and reduces role of USA in water disputes of the region tilting scales in China’s favour
What is Mekong River Commission?
  • The Mekong River Commission (MRC) is an intergovernmental body concerned with the Mekong River basin and charged “to promote and co-ordinate sustainable management and development of water and related resources for the countries’ mutual benefit and the people’s well-being by implementing strategic programmes and activities and providing scientific information and policy advice.
  • But China has spurned it over the years. China is only dialogue partner and not member of it whish shows its intention to take part in discussions but not to take on any legal obligations.
  • China’s refusal to join the 1995 Mekong treaty, which created the commission, has stunted the development of an inclusive, rules-based basin community to deal with water- and environment-related challenges.



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