Dam proposal rubbished by critics

(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-22 07:53

A proposal by a water conservation expert to divert water from Yarlung Zangbo River (upper reaches of Brahmaputra) in the Tibet Autonomous Region to North China has met with strong opposition.

Water Resources Minister Wang Shucheng, also a hydraulic engineer, criticized the proposal as "unnecessary, unfeasible and unscientific."

"There is no need for such dramatic and unscientific projects," he said, admitting it involves major financial and technical difficulties.

"For example, we must keep an eye on possible floods when the Yellow River has 58 billion cubic metres of water. If another 50 billion cubic metres, not to mention 200 billion, is poured in, I am sure all the dams and protection embankments will be destroyed immediately," he said.

Moreover, the cost of diverting water from the Yarlung Zangbo would be much more expensive than any of the current ongoing water projects, Wang said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao also denied any plans to dam the river during a recent press briefing.

"The Chinese Government has no plans to build a dam on the Yarlung Zangbo River (the China part of the Brahmaputra) to divert water to the Yellow River," he said.

"Without international co-operation it is impossible to launch any major water project for an international river like this," Qin Hui, a professor in School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Tsinghua University, was quoted as saying by the Economic Observer newspaper.

"Plus, we have to take the international response into consideration."

The Great Western Route Water Diversion Project, proposed by water conservation expert Guo Kai, suggests diverting 200 billion cubic metres of water from the Yarlung Zangbo, Lancang (Salween) and Nujiang (Mekong) rivers each year to the Yellow River and arid northwestern and northern regions of China.

The Brahmaputra is one of Asia's longest rivers. traversing China's Tibet Autonomous Region, India and Bangladesh before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

"It is undoubted that the lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo River are within India's Assam Province, where it is a lifeline for local agriculture and backbone of the economy, just as it is further downstream in Bangladesh."

"It is so obvious that the proposed damming project will have a cascading effect leading to a natural disaster in the lower foreign reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo, Lancang (Salween) and Nujiang (Mekong) rivers."

The professor warned that there were currently no recognized international regulations to follow concerning development of international rivers, not even for boundary rivers.

"If we do translate Guo's proposal into State language, international disputes will be unavoidable," he added.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours