International desk – China on Friday successfully blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra River as part of its most expensive hydro project in Tibet, where the international river originated.
State-run Xinhua news agency the Lalho project on the tributary locally known as Xiabuqu River in Xigaze area ‘involves an investment of 4.95 billion yuan (740 million U.S. dollars)’ will serve ‘multiple purposes, including irrigation, flood control and power generation’.
The construction began in June 2016 and scheduled to be completed in 2019, said Zhang Yunbao, head of the project’s administration bureau.
The reservoir is designed to store up to 295 million cubic meters of water and helps irrigate 30,000 hectares of farmland.
The farming area, which usually suffers from severe drought, is a major crop production base in the Xigaze area.
Xigaze is also known as Shigatse and it is from this location Brahmaputra flows into India’s state of Arunachal Pradesh before entering Bangladesh.
The project will have two power stations with a combined generation capacity of 42 megawatts. They are designed to generate 85 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year.
This is not the first time that China has tried to alter the flow of rivers, flowing into India. In 2015, China operationlised the largest hydel project in Tibet, Zam Hydropower Station, built on Brahamputra river.
China’s first dam on the main upper reaches of the Brahmaputra was built at Zangmu in 2010. The green light was given for three more dams in the 2011-15 five-year plan, on which work is on-going.