A senior Indian journalist has opined that if China’s planned new hydropower project at the Brahmaputra’s Great Bend comes about then that will be a security risk for India’s Northeast region.

“It may not be outlandish to conclude that the sanction given by China’s recently held National People’s Congress, the ceremonial legislature of the country, for construction of hydropower dams near the Great Bend of the Brahmaputra river (which the Chinese refer to as Yarlung Tsangpo) and a railway link from Yaan in Sichuan to Nyingchi in Tibet is an important component of Beijing’s overall security strategy in South Asia,” writes Amitava Mukherjee in his opinion piece published in The Diplomat.

“Suggestions have come from important quarters that hydroelectric dams near the Great Bend are only parts of President Xi Jinping’s efforts to absorb in infrastructure projects parts of idle Chinese workforce.

But China has its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), being implemented in different parts of the globe.

This can absorb much greater numbers of the country’s labor force than what hydropower stations in Tibet can do,” he wrote.

He said China wants to maintain pressure on India.

“A hydropower station near the Great Bend of the Brahmaputra had occupied its own space in official Chinese discourse since 2007-2008 when interested quarters had pushed for its inclusion in China’s 12th Five Year Plan.

The proposal was shelved at that time, but Beijing undertook to develop the Bome-Medog highway, an infrastructure development initiative which always precedes construction of any big project.

“Obviously, this Chinese initiative carried meaning.

The Great Bend of the mighty river is situated in the Medog county of Tibet,” the journalist wrote.

Mukherjee said: “There are divergent opinions about the impact of the proposed cascade of dams near the Great Bend, an area where the Brahmaputra enters India’s Arunachal Pradesh after more than 2000 meters fall over a few kilometers of areas.

“A near unanimous opinion is that the project is dangerous from an environmental point of view as the area is geologically unstable and therefore prone to earthquakes.

In addition to this proposed project in the lower reaches of the Brahmaputra, China has already commissioned the Zangmu dam in the middle reaches of the river and three other such dams are coming up at Dagu, Jiexu and Jiacha, all in the same geographical location.” He said: “Here lies the security threat to India.

If the hydropower project at the Great Bend comes about then not only the Arunachal Pradesh but the whole of northeastern India will have to go to sleep with the possibility of breach of mammoth sized water reservoirs over its head at any time.”

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