BANGALORE — As China becomes increasingly stressed for water, it comes closer to slaking its thirst with Tibet’s Yalong Tsangpo River, known in India as the Brahmaputra. But international interests downstream worry about the impact on the environment, agriculture and politics.
China currently plans to divert the Yalong Tsangpo as the river bends from Tibet toward India. It intends to use the water for a hydro-electric project, as well as for its population in the dry north and northwest. According to the Asia Times, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao admits the “survival of the Chinese nation” depends on whether it can secure enough water. With a quarter of the country categorized as desert, China considers Tibet a ready solution.
Yet not only China suffers from water scarcity. If the diversion occurs, northeastern India and Bangladesh could access significantly less water from the Brahmaputra — a detriment to their agriculture and an environmental hazard.
At least 47 percent of the population worldwide depends on access to the water flowing from the Tibetan Plateau. “If Beijing goes ahead with the Tsangpo project it would practically mean a declaration of war against South Asia,” India-China watcher Claude Arpi told Asia Times.
Learn more from Circle of Blue’s in-depth reporting on China, Tibet and the Strategic Power of Water.
Read more about China’s diversion plans here.
Source: Asia Times