India to build second-largest dam as China seeks to divert river

01 May 2022

India plans to build its second-largest dam at Yingkiong in Arunachal Pradesh to counter China’s ambitious water diversion scheme of the river that pours downstream into the Brahmaputra river.

Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, said that the proposed dam in the upper reaches of Arunachal Pradesh would be able to store around 10 billion cubic metre (BCM) of water.

The proposed dam is expected to be built at an investment of around Rs 50,000 crore and is part of the proposed Upper Siang multi-purpose storage project, which will also generate hydropower.

China’s 14th five-year plan has proposed to build a massive dam over the Brahmaputra river, Yarlung Tsangpo, which raised concerns in India because of the strategic ramifications.

India plans to release water from the dam to maintain water security if China builds structures to divert water. In the case of China releasing water from its upper reaches, the proposed dam will store water to prevent floods.

Shekhawat said that India had planned a project for its mitigation in Yingkiong for constructing a dam in the upper reaches of Arunachal Pradesh. It will be one of the largest dams in India. The dam will hold water and release it in the lean season when there is no rainfall to provide water security.

While run-of-the-river (RoR) projects harness the seasonal flows to generate electricity, reservoir projects involve storing water, to address the risks of seasonal changes in the natural flow and availability of river water.

According to Indian planners, precipitation in China contributes just 7% to the flow of three tributaries of the Brahmaputra, including Subansiri, Siang and Lohit, that originate in China.

From the 2,880 km long Brahmaputra river, 1,625 km is in Tibet, 918 km in India, and 337 km in Bangladesh. From the total catchment area of 580,000 sq km, 50% lies in Tibet, 34% in India, and the remaining in Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Shekhawat said there is a little resistance at the local level, on which the Arunachal government is working.

He added that the total hydropower generation potential of India’s North-Eastern states, and Bhutan, is about 58 GW. Of which, Arunachal Pradesh alone accounts for 50.328 GW, which is the highest in India.

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Also read: India signs Rs 1,855 loan agreement with World Bank for dam infra

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