China on 30 September 2016 blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra River in Tibet. According to Chinese state run Xinhua news agency, China is constructing a hydro project on Xiabuqu River, a tributary of Brahmaputra in Xigaze in Tibet, closely located to Sikkim.
The blockade of the Brahmaputra river tributary may impact water flows into the lower riparian countries like India and Bangladesh.
This blockade of the tributary comes at a time when India has decided to suspend talks with Pakistan under Indus Water Treaty as part of its efforts to hit back at Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri attack. Like the Brahmaputra, the Indus also originates in the Tibetan plateau in China.
Earlier in 2015, China operationalised its 1.5 billion dollar Zam Hydropower Station, the largest in Tibet, built on the Brahmaputra river, which raised concerns in India.
The most important fact is that India and China have no water treaty similar to Indus water treaty between India and Pakistan. But they have established an Expert Level Mechanism on the trans-border Rivers. In October 2013, the two nations signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening cooperation on trans-border Rivers and as per the agreement, Beijing will provide data on water flows to India.
The Chinese Lalho Project in Xigaze of Tibet on the Xiabuqu river, which is a tributary of Yarlung Zangbo (it is the Tibetan name for River Brahmaputra), involves an investment of 4.95 billion Yuan (about 740 US dollars). The project that started in 2014 will be completed by 2019.
As per reports, China in its 12th five year plan has plans of three more hydropower projects on the mainstream of Brahmaputra, which have been approved for implementation.
How Chinese dams on Brahmaputra will affect India?
Chinese ambitious efforts to redraw its water map will have its affect on India because the vast densely populated region of North-east India depends on water from Brahmaputra and its tributaries. The river is a lifeline of the region and blockade of water due to any cause will adversely affect the environment as well as the economy of the region.
If in any situation, China blocks the water of Brahmaputra from flowing into India, then it may lead to feminine in North-East states of India.
China will have its control on the water of the River after it completes its work of the dams on River Brahmaputra. This means that this is direct attack on India by China, which is also a violation of International norms of sharing river waters.