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China Blocks Tributary Leading To Brahmaputra River

This move coincides with India's decision to revisit the Indus Water Treaty.

02/10/2016 12:35 PM IST | Updated 02/10/2016 12:45 PM IST
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Christine Pemberton
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HONG KONG -- China has reportedly taken a step aimed at cautioning India against moving too far in its tussle with Pakistan.

According to a report appearing in the state-owned Xinhua news agency, China has blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra river as part of a major hydroelectric project, whose construction began in 2014.

The Xinhua report has reported the blockage of a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo river.

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.

This move by China appears to be coinciding with India's decision last week to revisit the Indus Water Treaty, 1960 with Pakistan after a cross-border terrorist raid was made on an army base camp in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 19 Indian Army soldiers.

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 USD 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.

Whether the blocking of the tributary or the proposed dam will have any impact on water flows towards India and Bangladesh is as yet uncertain.

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

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