Beijing, May 26 — A Tibetan researcher estimates that China’s projects to dam the upper Brahmaputra include a total of 28 dams. “Ten dams completed, three under construction, seven under active consideration and eight more proposed.
” Latest unconfirmed estimates posted online by Tashi Tsering, an environmental studies scholar at the University of British Columbia, suggest that Chinese planners envisage a sustained series of dams on the upper Brahmaputra in Tibet. The proposed dams are not yet approved.
On the record, Beijing denies that its current projects on the Brahmaputra will adversely impact neighbouring India. Tsering has uploaded a map of potential and existing dam sites that he says was sourced from a government website.
The posting on the Tibetan Plateau blog is inaccessible in Beijing. “The current push to provide Tibetans with electrical power seems primarily motivated by Beijing’s desire to develop larger hydropower projects to power resource extraction, infrastructure development, and ultimately for the supply to coastal Chinese cities where demands are the highest,” posted Tsering on Monday.
The biggest proposal he discusses is a 38,000 MW project on the Brahmaputra at Motuo. He also lists a proposed ‘cascade’ of six smaller dams on the middle reaches.
“Hydropower construction in Tibet follows a trend in which smaller and medium-sized projects are built first to support the construction of larger projects later,” Tsering told HT. “So a major project like Motuo is likely to happen only after other projects and ultra-high voltage transmission lines are completed.” He estimated that the Motuo project would involve 15-25 km long tunnels attached to downstream pipes.
“China is making a unilateral plan to dam the Yarlung Tsangpo on the Tibetan plateau at numerous places before the tributary crosses into Indian territory and becomes a much larger river,” said Kelly Alley, anthropology professor at Auburn University, Alabama, in a paper she presented at a Mexico seminar in March.