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Jan 31, 2013 at 08:45am IST

China to build three more dams on Brahmaputra raising fears of cutting the water flow into India

Beijing: China has approved construction of three more dams on Brahmaputra river in Tibet in addition to the one being built, and much to the disquiet of India, it has not been informed about the plans so far. A document approved by the Chinese cabinet recently mentioned three dams to be built at Dagu, Jiacha and Jiexu on Brahmaputra, Indian officials in Beijing said.

The document listing projects to be completed in China's 12th five year plan made a passing reference to the three dams without any details, they said. India has not been informed about the move so far, they said. Asked about the plans to build the dams, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei told a media briefing in Bejing that "China has always taken a responsible attitude towards the development of cross border rivers".

"Any new project has to go through scientific planning and study with consideration of the interests of lower and upper stream countries", he said. Brahmaputra river is known as as Yarlung Zangbo in China.

Asked whether plans to build the dams have been approved and whether India and Bangladesh, which were lower riparian countries of the river, have been informed, Hong said he needs to get specific information. Beijing's decision comes at a time when India-China relations have improved considerably in all areas of cooperation and the two countries held lengthy round of the bilateral exchanges during National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon's visit to Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo.

Sharing of cross border river waters has figured in the discussions but apparently China has not informed India of its plans to build the dams. In his interactions with media after the talks, Menon has spoken about the two sides discussing water flows and China assurance that nothing what it is doing will affect the flows.

The two again met on the sidelines of BRICS Security officials meet this month in New Delhi. The new projects were reportedly approved by China at the State Council or Cabinet meeting on January 23. China has already been building a 510 MW dam at Zangmu and one of the three dams were reportedly bigger than this.

China has been arguing that its dams are run of the river designs, therefore would not be affecting the flows of the water. India has been expressing its concerns on this issue during the bilateral meetings. It figured during the then External Affairs Minister, SM Krishna's visit in March, 2012.

About India's concerns about Zangmu dam, Hong said at that time that the dam was not big enough to affect much of the flow to the lower riparian regions and China has not developed new hydro projects on the river.

With Additional Inputs from PTI

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