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OpinionsChina’s Diversion plan of Brahmaputra: Problems and Crisis

China’s Diversion plan of Brahmaputra: Problems and Crisis

Date:

Dr Ganesh Malhotra
Ronik Sharma

and China are two ancient giants inhabiting more than half of the 's human resources. These two countries are widely known to have rich natural mineral and water resources also. Both of them have now become global competitors in the areas of information technology and other areas of international trade in their attempt to reach other nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America. China's String of Pearls is an added attempt to encircle India through the waters and Islands of the Indian Ocean. India has already lost to China large portion of its land in the Northeastern region and Aksai Chin area in J&K. China has already befriended Pakistan for making deeper dents in its policy of encircling India China also keeps India at its tenterhooks by intermittently sending its armed forces in Arunachal Pradesh and borders repeatedly. Even otherwise, entire Northeastern region in India has remained disturbed area due to one or other type of insurgencies on the part of Nagas and Bodos largely financed and supported by China. Chinese are also generally known to supply armaments and other type of material support to Naxalite movement in India.

For more than half a century earlier Mao had visualized and planned the Great Bend or U turn water transfer and diversion programme for China in its Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern region including rivers Tsangpo, Yangtze, Han, Yellow etc. Among others, especially the Yarlung Tsangpo river's diversion will affect Northern Eastern region of India and North Western, North Eastern area of Bangladesh. The larger part of Great Bend will also adversely affect other areas in the South Eastern and South East Asian Regions such as Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. In this sense, China's current Western diversion plan under Great Bend Programme will start affecting India adversely in its water resource management as well.

China must be regarded as the greatest multifaceted threat to India's existence and its further development. China has now begun to plan a ‘future shock' to India and Bangladesh as regards natural river water resources. This is quite clear from China's Great Bend Programme specially its western project.

The western route diversion is also called South-to-North diversion in the Great Bend U turn water diversion programme. This involves Yangtze river, Yellow river, Yarlung Tsangpo river, Nu river, Lanceng river, Tongtian river, Dadu rivers and Jinsha river. It involves also land from Tibetean plateau through Shanghai plateau upto Beijing. This is the plan of diverting Brahmaputra's flow from India towards above mentioned Chinese Rivers and Land Areas with the main aim of fulfilling prospective and immediate needs of Beijing.

The significance of this research also lies in the impact and challenges of Great Bend on India, Bangladesh in particular and South Asian countries in general. Apart from causing water depletion for India and Bangladesh, this programme is likely to lead to massive human displacement and emergence of new water conflicts involving India Myanmar and Bangladesh. Such diversions of water on the part of China will also disturb estuary ecosystem. This is especially going to result from China's ongoing construction of Three Gorges Dam.

China's such plan will not only disturb biodiversity but will also increase frequency of earthquakes and flash floods in India and Bangladesh. Northeastern region of India and entire country of Bangladesh is also going to be badly affected in terms of economic repercussion. Numerous people will be losing their livelihood dependent on river Brahmaputra. The depletion of surface water table will also affect agricultural health of the region.

The strategic location of the very dam, at Namchibarwa and its proximity to the Indian borders, undermines the security of India. China can use the dam as a military asset in the event of a war, to exploit the potential of the stored water by releasing it towards India causing great disasters in the region. Secondly, shortage of water in the Ganges has already affected the lives and livelihoods of millions in Bangladesh, pushing them to migrate to India, especially to its north eastern region. This migration of Bangladeshis has changed the demographic composition of vast tracts in the North East India especially Assam and has triggered serious ethnic conflicts. Shortage of water in the Brahmaputra will accentuate these problems to dangerous levels, threatening the security of India to a large extent.

The Brahmaputra valley is the biggest in the region which has played an important role in the growth of the States and the region's . Mostly, the Tsangpo's contribution is very significant as to the recycling of water potentiality of Brahmaputra basin and its biodiversity apart from the basin's ecological balancing. Nevertheless, the river Brahmaputra is the sole identity of Assamese people flowing all along the state from East to West. Viewed in a broad spectrum, the basins of the Brahmaputra, the Barak and the Irrawaddy rivers occupy and cover 68.42%, 16.36% and 7.27% of the region respectively. Together they constitute 92.04% of the region's geographical area. However, Brahmaputra and the Barak, the two main rivers of the region, jointly cover 86% of the Northeast region's water needs. They are undoubtedly the most dominant hydrological systems having the greatest impact on the environment and the lives of the people of the region. It flows through a seismically active region and its basin is home to fragile ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity. In addition, any possible trajectory of water resource development has to accommodate the uncertainties associated with the impacts of climate change and the economic development of the region.

The water received by Bangladesh in the wet season from rivers is about 51% delivered by the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. From the Ganges and its tributaries, Bangladesh gets about 28% of its supply of surface water and from Meghna and its tributaries, some 14% in the wet season. The rest 7% comes from rain. In the dry season, Brahmaputra and its tributaries are the source of 90% of the surface waters for Bangladesh. Thus, the Brahmaputra is seen as the main source of surface water in Bangladesh throughout the year. This scenario is nearly the same in India. Although India is not so utterly dependent like Bangladesh on the Brahmaputra for its surface water, nonetheless its dependence is considered to be close to the Bangladesh situation. For India, also, the Brahmaputra is a very major source of surface water and any decline in the supply of water from this source will not only have a great blow to its economy and ecology but also likely to effect the very survivability of the region in times to come. Apparently, the situation is going to be very grave as a result of successful completion of Western part of Great Bend Programme on the river Yarlung Tsangpo or Brahmaputra.

The clandestine Chinese motives will not only effect India and Bangladesh but also all the eight countries of Asia. That is why it is necessary for South Asian countries to understand Chinese plan and its hidden motives. Otherwise the fall of India and Bangladesh will logically also lead to near complete succumbing of Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal as well. Hence String of Pearls and Great Bend will ultimately lead to entire South Asia falling in China's basket.

The clandestine Chinese motives will not only effect India and Bangladesh but also all the eight countries of Asia. That is why it is necessary for South Asian countries to understand Chinese plan and its hidden motives. Otherwise the fall of India and Bangladesh will logically also lead to near complete succumbing of Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal as well. Hence String of Pearls and Great Bend will ultimately lead to entire South Asia falling in China's basket.

Dr Ganesh Malhotra is a J&K based researcher and Ronik Sharma is a Legal and Political analyst.

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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