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China blocks Brahmaputra tributary for dam

Updated Oct 02, 2016 11:52am

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NEW DELHI: While India considers expediting its hydropower projects on the Indus river in order to put pressure on Pakistan, China has taken a step that will be seen as cautioning New Delhi against moving too far in the latter’s current tussle with Islamabad.

China blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra river as part of a major hydroelectric project, whose construction began in 2014, The Hindu reported on Saturday.

In a dispatch from Beijing, the paper quoted state-run Xinhua news agency as reporting that the blockage of a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo river is part of China’s “most expensive” hydro project.

The Brahmaputra in its upper reaches is called Yarlung Zangbo, after it originates from the Angsi glacier in western Tibet, southeast of Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake.

The Hindu observed that China’s move coincided with the debate in India on the re-calibration of Indus water flows into Pakistan following a terrorist raid in Uri that killed 18 Indian troops.

According to Xinhua, China’s action on Friday falls within the parameters of the larger Lalho project that began in 2014. The project on the Xiabuqu river in Xigaze city, also called Shigatse, involves an investment of $740 million, the head of the project’s administrative bureau was quoted as saying.

The multipurpose enterprise, which includes construction of two power stations, was scheduled for completion in 2019. Shigatse, a railhead of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, is a few hours driving distance away from the junction of Bhutan and Sikkim. It is also the city from where China intends to extend its railway towards Nepal.

According to The Hindu, it is unclear whether the dam will have any impact on water flows towards India and Bangladesh — the two riparian states that are drained by the Brahmaputra.

China has maintained that its dams do not restrict the flow of water towards India as they are based on run-of-the river principle.

Published in Dawn October 2nd, 2016

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Comments (121) Closed



Saif Oct 02, 2016 08:09am

It's a good move by China. India should follow suit and stop the rivers for construction of dams. Pakistan can get water from China.

Shamshery Oct 02, 2016 08:23am

A dam which is being constructed from 2014 ; how does it "coincide " it with india's declaration in 2016? It just shows china to be more pragmatic about its national interests & india should follow this example and do the same in industry basin.

pti Oct 02, 2016 08:24am

good job, pak china friendship

Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad Oct 02, 2016 08:29am

It's not gonna affect flow In India.

Lei Wein Oct 02, 2016 08:40am

Our very very reliable friends tell me that Chinese People are building biggest satellitte in world which will block rain cloud going to India and causing rain. When it happens the Indian people will be at mercy of Chinese and its friends.

Anwar Amjad Oct 02, 2016 08:48am

Well done China! This will make India realize not to mess with the Indus Waters Treaty. China is a true friend of Pakistan.

Indian Oct 02, 2016 09:04am

Good for India. Now India can also built dam on Indus. saying Chinese broke treaty on Brahmaputra river. Actually China is helping india to build more dams on Indian side of Brahmaputra.

Mohsin Oct 02, 2016 09:12am

You rock China !

Vineeth Oct 02, 2016 09:14am

Check the map. The only Indian states affected by any large scale blockage of the Brahmaputra would be the remote Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. If anything, it would hurt Bangladesh far more. Sorry to burst the bubble, India is gifted by geography that the rivers that really matter in the country (Ganga and the peninsular rivers) originate within Indian territory. So, good luck China!

Abrar Oct 02, 2016 09:21am

Build kalabagh dam NOW

Ravi Oct 02, 2016 09:26am

If China can..why not India ?

Ahmed bin Babar Oct 02, 2016 09:32am

Now india shall have a better understanding of the consequences of its water terror...

Arvind Oct 02, 2016 09:43am

Makes the case for recalibration of Indus water treaty much stronger. Thanks China!

ABCD Oct 02, 2016 09:45am

It is good, as Brahmaputra creates havoc in Assam in India and some parts of Bangladesh in rainy days.

NAWAZ ISLAM Oct 02, 2016 09:47am

Well done China! You are truly an all-weather friend!

Raja Oct 02, 2016 09:48am

How it's benefitting Pakistan??

Sadiq Oct 02, 2016 10:05am

We Pakistani will be very happy now

Karam Oct 02, 2016 10:05am

Good, now there is no worries for India to suspend Indus Water treaty... Thank you China

i2i Oct 02, 2016 10:14am

Instead of regional cooperation it seems China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are being pushed into a dangerous regional conflict. Common sense should prevail.

Shyam Oct 02, 2016 10:18am

That is perfectly fine. It goes through Assam which has heaviest rainfall in India. In fact it will help India and Bangaladesh to reduce intensity of Floods. Also it will set a perfect precedent for India.

us Oct 02, 2016 10:21am

A true friend!!!

anony Oct 02, 2016 10:26am

Thank you China.

Long live Pak-China friendship.

OMG Oct 02, 2016 10:43am

China has given India a great excuse to build dams in full capacity on Indus system, while this may not effect India and Bangladesh to that extent. But Pakistan will feel the heat

Prateik Oct 02, 2016 10:46am

It's more of problem for Bangladesh.

Kumar Oct 02, 2016 10:46am

China concern about India and informed that the dam won't affect water flow into india. These dams are not for storing water, those are running water dams.

Dr Arslan Vistro Oct 02, 2016 10:48am

China is a god gifted friend of pakistan

Sohail Khan Gem Oct 02, 2016 11:07am

PAK China Dosti Zindabad. China is our all weather friend.

vinit Oct 02, 2016 11:52am

Whatever China does will be beneficial to India. If it sets an example to block india can justify its blocking. If it does not .....then there is no issue.It has set a deadly example of being a country ignoring international court judgements, which I am sure India will also do in many of its disputes.

Ash Oct 02, 2016 11:53am

@Dr Arslan Vistro You guys keep expecting from others only. Two brothers(India and Pakistan) together can help each other to rule the world. But what are we doing. Instead Pakistan is busy in Kashmir and doing nothing for Pakistanis and expecting help from others by calling them god gifted friend. Irony....

Zak Oct 02, 2016 11:55am

@OMG We will destroy any such dams which affects our water flow swiftly.

am Oct 02, 2016 11:58am

China legitamising the upper riparian claim through this. Indian govt should now talk less and act more. The repercusions should be visible without rhetoric.

Jack Oct 02, 2016 11:58am

It will not impact much, as major catchment area of Brahmaputra is in Indian side.

Also due to geographical location, it is not viable to built dam next to Indian border. This dam is 500 kilometer away from Indian border.

Also this is great opportunity to India to break Indus Water Treaty.

kranti Oct 02, 2016 12:03pm

India will follow CHINA on IWT...

Adil Jadoon Oct 02, 2016 12:04pm

What rubbish..china does what it wants while we keep fighting each other. China does nothing for anyone.

Ganesh Oct 02, 2016 12:05pm

No effect in india

Kamal Pasha. Oct 02, 2016 12:07pm

This news has given sleepless nights to the BJP govetnment and the Indian public as well.

Saif Oct 02, 2016 12:08pm

@Dr Arslan Vistro yes now we will do the same on rivers on our side of borders. Pakistan can ask water from their best friend China.

tamil Oct 02, 2016 12:11pm

China is acting against India in all arenas, China fears India , that we will take away their jobs as is evident in the numerous articles published in their state dailies.

rahul sarkar Oct 02, 2016 12:14pm

China put pakistan into a grave trouble. I think china indirectly threatening pakistan if pakistan dont obey china like a slave it can couse tremendous harm to pakistan.

Hindu Oct 02, 2016 12:15pm

if china is so good friend of Pakistan then why didn't they directly challenged India or modi on the surgical strike episode to which Pakistan is denying or why they hvnt supported the Pakistani stands of freedom of Kashmir, why they too want dialogue between two parties like US.

Vectra Oct 02, 2016 12:17pm

For India this may be cause of some concern but not wariness.Besides its is run of the river dam as per China's own statement.Also Indian govt has not reacted on it yet as it would have like Pakistan reacted on IWT soon minutes after the news broke out.Seems India is just relaxed knowing very well that even if China block it does it then also Assam is safe.Despite knowing the above that still India goes ahead with IWT review

Raunak Oct 02, 2016 12:17pm

@Dr Arslan Vistro .. For few more days though

Apoorv Oct 02, 2016 12:18pm

China can't stop water for Bangladesh ....simple .India can relax

Vectra Oct 02, 2016 12:18pm

For India this may be cause of some concern but not wariness.Besides its is run of the river dam as per China's own statement.Also Indian govt has not reacted on it yet as it would have like Pakistan reacted on IWT soon minutes after the news broke out.Seems India is just relaxed knowing very well that even if China blocks it then also Assam is safe.Despite knowing the above still India goes ahead with IWT review

Vectra Oct 02, 2016 12:19pm

For India this may be cause of some concern but not wariness.Besides its is run of the river dam as per China's own statement.Also Indian govt has not reacted on it yet as it would have like Pakistan reacted on IWT soon minutes after the news broke out.Seems India is just relaxed knowing very well that even if China blocks it then also Assam is safe.Despite knowing the above still India goes ahead with IWT review

tac Oct 02, 2016 12:20pm

For indian friends who think india can deprive pakistan of water from indus water system. Please note that for water utilization, you need water distribution channels in addition to dam and costs involved are huge. It all depend upon terrain and sort of cost/benefit equation. In Pakistan, rivers pass through kashmir but no canal network exist there. Similarly, pothohar region lies between indus and jhelum rivers but there is no river water distribution system in that area owing to terrain. As for as HYDEL POWER GENERATION is concerned, no water is consumed in this process. Water is passed through a tunnel to propel the turbine.

Pakistani tujhe salam Oct 02, 2016 12:24pm

Well done China. You are our true all weather friend unlike Indian hate. We still have plenty of seas if in case India stops the water the last resort would be to go converion plants as have many countries done. Long live Pak China frienship

Suhas Oct 02, 2016 12:23pm

China has built 87,000 dams as upper riparian country for Brahmaputra, Mekong and other rivers which flows in South Asian countries. China has not signed a water sharing treaty with any of its 13 downstream neighbors. India and other countries have not been successful in mounting pressure for not constructing dam in Chinese area or even to get a water sharing treaty signed. Recent Hague verdict on SCS is a solid example on how they safe guard their national interest without worrying much about international reputation. Indus is one river which originates from China, flows thru India and Pakistan Kashmir before entering Punjab in Pakistan. So it is a worry rather than celebration as Pakistan pressure on China is a remote possibility and it is for sure that they have all plans to build dams on Indus river.

Jonathan Oct 02, 2016 12:28pm

Modi forgot to think of consequences of his water utterances!

Tasleem ulhaq Oct 02, 2016 12:29pm

And Pakistan may divert Kabul river which flows to Afghanistan from chitral district of Pakistan.

Truth Oct 02, 2016 12:30pm

Perfect timing and very appropriate move by China!

satnam Oct 02, 2016 12:41pm

Two moves by China show its nefarious design against World's biggest democracy - blocking tributary of Brahmaputra and extending technical hold on the ban of Masood Azhar who got released from India by hijacking of Indian Air Liner.

aslam shaikh1 Oct 02, 2016 12:49pm

Lucky that our friend China can rein in India.

SB Oct 02, 2016 12:53pm

Great..Now Pakistan can ask China to lay a water pipe line as extenson of CPEC

Ravi Sharma Oct 02, 2016 12:54pm

Suppose if China blocks the entire Brahmaputra river -

It has to manage that river within its own boundary which is not an easy task. Bangladesh would finish. Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh would take a hit but not that much since only Assam depends entire on Brahmaputra river for agriculture (AP is a hilly place like Uttarakhand so its not death for them). India would block Indian market for Chinese goods. Chinese economy suffers(India's population would be more than China by 2022 so it matters). And Pakistan face the wrath in India (remember 'the Indus Water Treaty').

SB Oct 02, 2016 01:05pm

It is not at all a serious matter until Bangladesh raise objection to it

ANURAG Oct 02, 2016 01:07pm

Dear China, That's your territory do whatever you want to do.Here in our market, we will do whatever we want to do.Do not force us to use our market as soft power against you.It will stumble your economy.WTO can facilitate your dumping policy but it can not prevent you if we will use our public boycott policy.so,lets develop together without hampering each others growth.

Ashish Oct 02, 2016 01:10pm

@Zak with nukes or without nukes.Hope you know the truth.

SAEED MASOOD Oct 02, 2016 01:21pm

The best and sensible solution will be that China , Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh should sit down and solve these issues in everyone's favour and behave like mature and good people.

Kunal Oct 02, 2016 01:41pm

Even though it will have least repercussion on India, nonetheless China is ticking all the wrong boxes of India. It will prove counterproductive in the future. Remember China has opened too many doors of potential conflict around itself.

Raj kumar Oct 02, 2016 02:30pm

@Zak and you think we will not do anything.

Raj kumar Oct 02, 2016 02:29pm

@Adil Jadoon I as in Indian will agree with you.

Sami Oct 02, 2016 06:42pm

Long live China We love you Only true friend

suleman Oct 02, 2016 07:44pm

@Indian There is a treaty brokered by world bank between india and Pakistan. but there is no treaty between India and China.

Ravi..Indian Oct 02, 2016 07:47pm

Even if China build few more days it won't much effect India on the ground coz very small area depends on Brahmaputra river. But pinch will be more on Bangladesh. Which China can't afford at this movement

Ammyjd Oct 02, 2016 07:51pm

This is foolishness of Chinese. Now Indians will have an example to stop Indus water. Indian leadership had only suggested to use their allotted 20 percent of water , which they have been using only 8 % at present. Now they will have a legitimate excuse more than 20 percent citing Chinese example. This may harm Pakistani interest.

Praveen Kapoor Oct 02, 2016 08:03pm

@Zak then there will be full scale war and we will be at liberty to destroy your vital installations.Please start and see the result yourself

ram Oct 02, 2016 08:03pm

lol. That will only push India to divert Kashmir rivers to east India. Do it China, we dare you. Loser will be pakistan with no water while China and India both will have water. And let's see how Bhutan and Bangladesh take this move by China as they are real parties.

Praveen Kapoor Oct 02, 2016 08:04pm

@Ahmed bin Babar India will instead now build more dams following China's example.We will do our best to hurt chinese interest without going to war with them by reducing imports from them and increase imports from its enemies like Japan,South Korea and Vietnam.

Smh Oct 02, 2016 08:04pm

The movement in India to stop using Chinese goods has started.....

Praveen Kapoor Oct 02, 2016 08:12pm

@Kamal Pasha. how do you know sir.It has minimal effect on India.Ask any water expert.Don't get carried away by emotions.But our stopping of your water will have devastating effect on your economy.China is doing everything for its own interest and not for Pakistan and we will also do the same .Why should we gift our water for free to Pakistanis.But it will take us 10 years to build sufficient number of dams to stop the water fully.Till then keep enjoying our free water

Sri Oct 02, 2016 08:13pm

70% of catchment of Brahmaputra is still in India. While diversion will have an impact the quantum of water if well used may minimise impact on India and BD. Further if India can interlink rivers other Himalayan waters can be sent to the east as needed.

dev Oct 02, 2016 08:18pm

The dam will hardly have any impact on India, as 70% of water in the Brahmaputra river is from rains and half of the time there is flooding in the river. Additionally, the river passes through two states Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, for which even 70% water is more than sufficient for agriculture.

Abul Shamsuddin Oct 02, 2016 08:24pm

Unilateral approach by any country as regards to the use of Himayalan Rivers will bring further misery for the people of this region. India and China in particular should realize that and sit with other contries of this region and adopt in unison.

Unilateral withdrawal of Ganges water at Farakka by India has not only caused havoc in Bangladesh only but in India also. Bihar chief minster has asked to dismantle Farakka Barrage.

Adnan 2 Oct 02, 2016 08:29pm

I am very sure Bangladesh people will go against India. Just wait and watch.

Li-N-Ja Oct 02, 2016 08:39pm

I have read Modi's statements and nowhere found he has said to block the water. Its a unnecessary media hype. Practically its not easy for India to do such thing and that too in such a short period. India may just improve their usable content within the limit under the agreement which is anyway they are not doing. Similarly Pakistan also not using the water resource and more than 40% of the water is going to the sea. I would like Pakistan to expedite the infrastructure projects and try to maximise the use of water which is flowing down. Its not easy for India to flaunt international treaty.

Abhi Oct 02, 2016 08:52pm

If anything, this sets a "bad" precedent and an encouragement for India to work on Indus. Moreover, China will earn Bangladesh's ire as well. Pakistan's best friend is making a mockery of so called,'international law' and Pakistan expects India to continue to be generous and respect treaties which have only worked to Pakistan's advantage. Whether this is aimed at India or not, it is certainly not in Pakistan's interest.

Ananth Oct 02, 2016 09:08pm

Now India has to follow suit and China can sell cheap water bottles through silk road to Pakistan.

China is good at making North Koreas.

iftokhar butta Oct 02, 2016 09:10pm

East or west China is the best friend of Pakistan.

shan Oct 02, 2016 09:10pm

IT is one of worst action by China for the common peoples of India. We Peoples of Pakistani condemn such action by China against common humans and international Laws.

Ananth Oct 02, 2016 09:10pm

India and Japan will free Tibet.

Nick Oct 02, 2016 09:36pm

Good job by China. Now India can replace the reduced water flow by building dams on Indus and have a good explanation for it.

a Oct 02, 2016 09:38pm

@Kumar Running water dams ? What are those .??????

alla bux Oct 02, 2016 09:39pm

It is a tiny tributary of Brahmaputra and besides this 'blocking' is in the making for a long time as it was part of China's plan to harness hydal power. And if we are happy about it then we will be in piquant situation when India does the same on Indus system. We can not have it both ways.

alla bux Oct 02, 2016 09:44pm

What China did today, India can tomorrow. What will we then if we do not criticize China today how can we criticize India tomorrow? This cuts both ways.

Azhar Panni Oct 02, 2016 09:47pm

Dams can never stop or block water from flowing to lower reparian. These can only control flow of rivers to some extent depending on type and location. Specially in higher upper reaches dams with large storages are not possible. So one in news-Lalho dam on river Xiabuku in Tibet, an upper tributary of Yarlong Zangbu later named Brahmaputra-is a run of river capable only to produce electricity from daily storage basis not posing any serious impact on Asam and Bangladesh. Project started by China in 2004 in no way is in retaliation to Modi's latest threat to Pakistan to do away with Indus Water Treaty. Since IWT is an international agreement guaranteed by World Bank, India can't do so unilaterally without serious repercussions. History is full of wars fought amongst communes/nations on basis of same inequalities. Let's not fight nature by thinking or planning for depriving others of life saving water. Let's follow policy of "Live and let others Live".

Pakistan Zindabad Oct 02, 2016 09:56pm

Well done China.

Jai Oct 02, 2016 10:02pm

Thanks to China. Now we Indian can build dam on our side of rivers. Pakistan can get water from China through CPEC route. As being big brother China they are taking Pakistan share from brampurtra river.

Ayanabha Oct 02, 2016 10:03pm

@Tasleem ulhaq such a mean thought by tasleem....Afghanistan is a poor country ......how can you say so....and chinese dam is not affecting India

Sudhakar USA Oct 02, 2016 10:16pm

"Under international law, arbitrary blockage of rivers amounts to ‘aggression’ — justifying a military response from Pakistan." - Munir Akram, DAWN article o2-OCT-2016

Javan Oct 02, 2016 10:30pm

On the contrary it will embolden India to go ahead with plans.

Santhosh Oct 02, 2016 10:43pm

Stop nonsense on India

nithyarb Oct 02, 2016 10:49pm

China blocking water for India is fine. But India cannot block water for Pakistan. China can build dams. But not India. China can take territory like south China sea.. But India shouldn't protect her Kashmir.

Fair world.

Prem Oct 02, 2016 10:53pm

It makes India life easy. At this point india wants 50 percentage share on water. Now they can completely block the water.

Changez Khan Oct 03, 2016 12:37am

Long live China.

Kumar Oct 03, 2016 01:19am

@Anwar Amjad In fact, it gives credibility to India also going ahead with its best interests in mind.

pk Oct 03, 2016 05:01am

@Dr Arslan Vistro chineese cannot be friends. Pakistan would realise soon.

Akbar Khan Oct 03, 2016 05:07am

Rivers are not a war fighting machines, whoever using it for that purpose is totally wrong.

Samir Rahman (India) Oct 03, 2016 07:33am

this is not a very recent development, china had work already started during early 2014 (during congress tenure) but has recieved spotlight now mostly in indian media when indus water share is being considered by modi in response to terrorism

Iqbal Oct 03, 2016 08:01am

Wonderful now China will not interfear when india builds on indus

Khairul Islam Oct 03, 2016 08:09am

its a step which will dry out Bangladesh ,we are last in reciving water ...no choice but to go to UN

Aussie Oct 03, 2016 09:22am

@Smh good... but india never produces anything by it self apart from movies. don't know how they gonna survive with boycotting chinese made.

NIHARENDU TALUKDER Oct 03, 2016 12:05pm

we know very well, how to handle china.

Mumtaz Oct 03, 2016 05:57pm

@Indian Brother there is no water treaty between India and China. Brother I wonder why so much hate in your hearts. Just be good and honest. That is my advise to you Indians.

CONCERNED CITIZEN Oct 03, 2016 09:55pm

So much stupidity is being doled out here. This will hurt India and Pakistan. China blocking Bhramaputra hurts India, and India blocking Indus hurts Pakistan.

Why are the people of two country rejoicing?

Jay Oct 03, 2016 10:55pm

@Saif Dream on ! India will continue to build the dams now more than ever, fully knowing that china will do it one way or the other. The dam is not going to block off water but can stall its flow

MARATHA Oct 03, 2016 10:55pm

Don't worry ..this dam will not work more than 5 year aftet completion..obviously it would be made in china..

SAEED MASOOD Oct 03, 2016 11:12pm

Now the China act will become a bad thing and the whole world will come to help India.Wait for more to come Pakistan with this very good friend will become a regional Military and Economical power Russia will also join this club...InshaAllah... China is a real Pakistan friend long live Pakistan China friendship.

Being Indian Oct 04, 2016 01:43am

If China is building dam its fine for India , we are one of the developing nation we understand the difficulties . But even said that i would like to add that India is capable of solving any problem if its there between India-China . China is mature nation , probably we both will sit and talk on the issue if will hurt Indian interest by any chance.

Vinod Dawda Oct 04, 2016 01:51am

How more stupid the suggestion can be to say that the Chinese move is to caution Delhi? These things are NOT done overnight and the project has been going on for last few years. China is great at infrastructure projects but only Pakistanis can believe they built a huge dam in a few days! his actually makes it easy for India to ignore the riparian regions when it comes to Indus.

Ramesh C Manghirmalani Oct 04, 2016 01:52am

You think India cares

jwkeljq Oct 04, 2016 03:07am

China would do that regardless of Indo-Pak tension. Picking on neighbors with controversial moves and claims has always been China's forte, and this move is no different.

Hima Oct 04, 2016 03:09am

Thanks China, Too much rainfall was causing floods in North East.

KEN Oct 04, 2016 04:48am

That river tributes mere 1% to Brahmaputra and the dam will not be on main river, it will be on side and that will keep flowing tributary river. Brahmaputra is so big that it wont have any effect.

Samir Lone Oct 04, 2016 04:51am

Friends look out for each other.

Rp Oct 04, 2016 06:16am

@Lei Wein - you are genius buddy!

sam Oct 04, 2016 01:30pm

Thanks to china, it will save flood in India. Without spending any money from India.

Faizan Oct 04, 2016 02:03pm

Why we can't build small dams and kala bagh. There are forces which are restraining to build our water reserves.

Hasmukh dave Oct 04, 2016 02:24pm

@Anwar Amjad it will promote India to follow chines suit and buit huge dam on sindhu river, Now China will not have any moral rights to say no to India

Subodh Jain Oct 04, 2016 08:03pm

Most of the rains are south of Himalayas. It does not hurt India much. Brahmaputra overflows its banks regularly during the monsoon season and Bangladesh gets flooded. The dam may actually help regulate the overflow that occurs during the monsoon season.

Mirror Oct 05, 2016 01:16am

Its not a surprise as china had already declared this in 2013. It has nothing to do with pakistan.