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China and India heading for dispute over the Brahmaputra river hydro projects

China and India heading for dispute over the Brahmaputra river hydro projects

India has urged China to respect its river rights following a media report that Beijing plans to build new hydroelectric plants on a waterway that the neighbours share.

The Hindu newspaper reported that China was looking at building three new hydro projects on the Yarlung Tsangpo river in Tibet, which becomes the Brahmaputra when it flows into India.

“The government of India carefully monitors all developments on the Brahmaputra river,” foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told a news conference.

“India urges China to ensure that the interests of downstream states are not harmed by any activities in upstream areas.”

A Chinese government document posted on the State Council’s website last week states that China will “comprehensively promote hydropower base construction” on a number of rivers including the “middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river”. While the projects are said to be “run-of-the river” – meaning they do not require large storage reservoirs or cause major disruption to the flow – any new construction would alarm New Delhi.

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