China to build USD 1.8 bn water projects in Tibet

The hydropower station on the Yarlung Tsangpo river will not lead to any big change in the downstream water levels.

Updated: Aug 16, 2011, 12:54 PM IST

Beijing: China on Tuesday announced its plans to build projects worth USD 1.8 billion in Tibet, which presumably include a hydropower project on Brahmaputra river originating from there.

China will spend more than 11.6 billion yuan (USD 1.8 billion) on the construction of Tibet`s irrigation and drinking water projects in the mentioned 12th five year plan starting from this year, official Xinhua news agency reported.

The money will go to 16 categories of water programmes that would cover irrigation, flood prevention and control, drinking water and hydropower, quoted officials of the Tibet`s Water Resources Department as saying.

There has been no direct reference in today`s announcement to the dam China plans to build on Brahmaputra river, which in Tibetan language is known as Yarlung Tsangpo.

According to reports, China plans to build a USD 1.2 billion run of the river dam to generate 510 mw power. The allocation is presumably in addition to about seven billion yuan (over USD one billion) that has been channelled into the water programs in Tibet, providing 1.62 million farmers and herders in the region with clean drinking water.

In March this year, Chinese Foreign Ministry said they proposed to build a dam on Brahmaputra but not a "very big one" to cause concern for neighbouring countries India and Bangladesh, which avail the waters.

"At present, the hydropower station on the Yarlung Tsangpo river is not a very big one and will not lead to any big change in the downstream water levels or affect the harnessing efforts by the downstream countries," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Jiang Yu told the media here.

In the later months, the Ministry consistently down played India`s concerns in this regard saying China adopted a responsible attitude towards the development of cross border water resources.

"We adopt a policy that protection goes together with development, and take into full consideration the interests of downstream countries," another Foreign Ministry spokesman
Hong Lei told the media in June this year.

Today`s announcement said the water projects will enable all Tibetan farmers and herders to get access to clean drinking water upon completion, and more than 90 per cent of the region`s rural population will have access to electricity, the sources said.

In the first half of this year, about three billion yuan has been earmarked for the water projects that include 129 programs, of which 125 are newly constructed ones.

PTI