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China dams Brahmaputra river in Tibet

November 18, 2010

16 NOV, 2010
Press Trust of India 

BEIJING: China has dammed the Brahmaputra river in Tibet for the first time in order to begin the main construction work on a 510 MW hydropower station project, notwithstanding concerns raised by India in this regard. 

The river was dammed on November 12 to help in the construction of the Zangmu Hydropower Station project in the middle reaches of the Brahmaputra river in Gyaca County of Lhoka Prefecture in Tibet Autonomous Region, according to 'Tibet Online' of the state-run People's Daily. 

With a total investment of nearly 7.9 billion yuan (USD 1.18 billion), the station will have six 85-megawatt generating units installed, which will bring the total installed capacity to 510 megawatts. 

It will be the first large hydropower station in Tibet and its first unit will be put into operation in 2014, which will greatly alleviate the power shortage in central Tibet. 

The hydropower station is about 325 kilometres away from the Tibetan capital Lhasa and its average annual generating capacity is expected to reach 2.5 billion kilowatt hours. 

Its main function is power generation, but it can also be used for flood control and irrigation, the report said. 

The Indian government, during its talks with China earlier this year, had raised concerns over the possible downstream impact of the project. 

However, China had assured India that the project would be "run of the river" having little impact downstream. 

Run-of-the-river is a type of hydroelectric generation whereby the natural flow and elevation drop of a river are used to generate electricity. 

China had also said that the project was only for hydropower generation and was not aimed at diverting the water of the Brahmaputra river, which originates in China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and is the world's highest river. 

The huge gap between the highest and lowest points of the river and the heavy river flow help ensure abundant water resources. 

The Zangmu hydropower station is a key project included in Tibet's 11th Five-Year Plan. 

At present, Tibet has only hydropower stations with the installed capacity of up to 100 megawatts. 
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