Beijing: China on Sunday partly commissioned its largest hydropower station in Tibet, built on the Brahmaputra river, that could restrict the flow of water in the major river in the riparian regions in India and Bangladesh.
The first generating unit of the 9.6 billion yuan (USD 1.5 billion) Zangmu Hydropower Station, which is positioned over 3,300 metres above sea level on the "roof of the world", went into operation with five other generating units due for completion next year.
The huge project, which straddles the middle reaches of the roaring Yarlung Zangbo River, the local name for Brahmaputra will have a total installed capacity of 510,000 kilowatts upon completion. It is designed to generate 2.5 billion kilowatt hours of
power annually, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
Reports said besides Zangmu, China is reportedly building few more dams. China seeks to ally the Indian fears of running river projects which are not designed to hold water.
The dams also raised concerns in India over their ability to release the water at times of conflict which could pose serious risk of flooding.
In Tibet itself the dams sparked off apprehensions over their impact on the fragile environment of the Himalayan region.
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said during his recent visit here that a comprehensive study will be conducted on Brahmaputra water basin.
An Indian Inter-Ministerial Expert Group (IMEG) on the Brahmaputra last year said the dams being built on the upper reaches has called for further monitoring, considering their impact on the flow of waters to the lower reaches.
The IMEG noted that the three dams, Jiexu, Zangmu and Jiacha are within 25 km of each other and 550 km from the Indian border.
India has been taking up this issue with China for the past few years and the two countries reached an agreement during the visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari in July this year under which India will pay China over Rs 82 lakh annually for crucial flood data of the Brahmaputra to improve flood forecasting.
The two sides also agreed to allow their water experts to conduct study tours on both sides of the river which originates in Tibet.
The commissioning of the Zangmu Hydropower Station improves the power station in Tibet, the report said.
Official statistics show that Tibet's per capita electricity consumption in 2013 was slightly over 1,000 kilowatt hours, less than one-third of the national average.
"The hydropower station will solve Tibet's power shortage, especially in the winter," said Liu Xiaoming, from the State Grid's Tibet Electric Power Co.
According to Tibet's development and reform commission, as of October 2014, the region's installed power generating capacity was 1.48 million kilowatts.
Tibet has annual water resources of 448.2 billion cubic meters, with potential water power resources reaching 201.36 million kilowatts. It holds nearly 30 per cent of the nation's total water power resources.
A total of 320 million yuan (USD 53 million) has been invested in the Zangmu hydroplant project to build environmental friendly facilities such as sewage treatment plants, garbage recycling stations and fish protection stations.
"The Yarlung Zangpo River (Brahmaputra) requires much higher protection standard than any other rivers in China, and the experience of Zangmu station may be learnt by other hydropower projects in Tibet," said Bo Lunzhang, official at the regional environmental protection bureau.