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China gives green light for first downstream dams on Brahmaputra

Published: 15th Mar, 2021

China has adopted 14th Five Year Plan which mentions a hydropower project on Brahmaputra River near Arunachal Pradesh


China has adopted 14th Five Year Plan which mentions a hydropower project on Brahmaputra River near Arunachal Pradesh


What does the Five Year Plan signifies?

  • The plan was drafted against tensions between India-China and China-USA during COVID-19 pandemic
  • The 2021-2025 plan is anticipated to have aggressive goals on sustainable energy in order to reach China's announced goals of carbon neutrality by no later than 2060
  • Hence a hydroelectric project is envisaged on Brahmaputra River, which will offer clean energy to China

About the proposed dam and its location

  • The plan was first revealed last year by Power Construction Corp of China or POWERCHINA
  • Run of the river hydropower project in the downstream of the Yarlung Tsangpo River (the Tibetan name for Brahmaputra)
  • The 50km section at the Great Bend alone offered the potential of 70 million kWh which equals more than three Three Gorges power stations

Brahmaputra River System

  • Origin: Jima Yangzong Glacier in Tibet near Mansarovar Lake
  • Course of the River:
    • It flows parallel to Himalayan Range in Tibet and after the Great Bend enters India at Arunachal Pradesh
    • It is fed by many tributaries and continues to flow towards Assam and then Bangladesh
    • In Bangladesh, River Ganga meets Brahmaputra River(Jamuna) which is then called Padma River and it drains in to Bay of Bengal at Sunderbans
  • Tributaries:
    • Left Bank: Lhasa River, Nyang River, Parlung Zangbo, Lohit River, Dhansiri River, Kolong River
    • Right Bank: Kameng River, Manas River, Raidak River, Jaldhaka River, Teesta River, Subansiri River, Siang
  • National Waterways 2
    • It is a section of the Brahmaputra River having a length of 891 km between the Bangladesh border near Dhubri and Sadiya in Assam.
  • Ecological Significance
    • The basin provides a unique habitat for exquisite variety of flora and fauna, including many endangered species like one-horned rhinoceros, pygmy hog, hispid hare, Asiatic elephant, clouded leopard, marble cat, golden cat, binturong, hoolock gibbon and the Wood Duck.
    • The flood plains of the Brahmaputra are dotted with a large number of wetlands or beels, which provide unique habitats for a variety of flora and fauna. The beels also function as floodwater retention systems.
  • Wildlife Hotspot on bank of Brahmaputra
    • Dibru Saikowa National Park
    • Kaziranga National Park
    • Orang National Park
  • Majuli Island
    • It is the world's largest river island  located in Brahmaputra River
    • It is also called the cultural capital of Assam.
  • The Great Bend
    • Brahmaputra flows in a deep canyon or gorge between two Himalayan peaks ‘Namcha Barwa’ and ‘Gyala Peri’ in Tibet. Then the river turns to south and rushes towards Arunachal Pradesh.
    • This region, where the river takes such a big turn of almost 270 degrees, is known as ‘The Great Bend’ of the Brahmaputra.

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