Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu
on Wednesday informed the assembly that the Centre has proposed to construct a large barrage on
in the state to keep it “alive” in view of the potential threats from a huge dam on Yarlung Tsangpo river (upstream of Siang) being built by China in neighbouring Tibet region.
During a zero hour discussion initiated by Congress member Lombo Tayeng, Khandu said China decided to build the 60,000 MW dam on the river in the Tibet region in its 14th five-year plan.
Expressing concern over China’s mega dam project, Khandu said this would have a cascading effect on India and Bangladesh in the near future and added that several rounds of discussions have been held at the government level and with the Brahmaputra Board on the looming threats from the Chinese project.
He said the Centre, too, has expressed concern about the position of Siang river once the Chinese project is completed.
“We have to keep Siang alive. If there is diversion of water (by China), the dimension of Siang will be reduced, or if water comes in large volumes, it will create massive floods in the Siang valley and downstream areas in neighbouring Assam and Bangladesh,” he said, adding that “in case of release of excessive water, we need to have big structures to protect ourselves from floods.”
Khandu said he will personally visit the Siang valley on Thursday to request the villagers to cooperate and allow the survey and investigation work for the proposed barrage.
“Once the survey is completed, the Centre can give us a clear picture of the matter,” Khandu said, reierating that the Chinese project is a matter of serious concern for India.
“We are worried about the project’s impact in the future. Accordingly, a high-level meeting of the Brahmaputra Board was convened recently. The Centre has proposed a barrage on the Siang river so that Chinese activities do not affect the river,” he said.
Tayeng, while initiating the discussion, pointed out that the Siang river is frequently changing its course causing massive land erosion of a few lakh hectares of cultivated land, and reducing the area of the D Ering wildlife sanctuary.
“Since there is a possible involvement of China in blocking and diverting of water, dumping of construction material in the river and unwarranted release of water in the upstream in their territory, if the phenomenon of recurring floods in Siang Valley is not declared a national calamity and adequate measures not taken, it may be disastrous in near future,” Tayeng said.
The Yarlung Tsangpo river starts from Manasarovar lake and flows easterly about more than 1600 km across Tibet before it bends towards the south-east around Namcha Barwa peak to enter India at Gelling in Arunachal Pradesh where the river is known as Siang. It flows for nearly 300 km in Arunachal through Siang, Upper Siang and East Siang districts before entering Assam, where the river is known as Brahmaputra.