The construction will span the Brahmaputra River earlier than the waterway leaves the Himalayas and flows into India, straddling the world’s longest and deepest canyon at an altitude of greater than 1,500 metres (4,900 ft).
The venture in Tibet’s Medog County is anticipated to dwarf the record-breaking Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in central China, and is billed as in a position to produce 300 billion kilowatts of electrical energy annually.
It is talked about in China’s strategic 14th Five-Year Plan, unveiled in March at an annual rubber-stamp congress of the nation’s prime lawmakers.
But the plan was brief on particulars, a timeframe or funds.
The river, often called the Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibetan, can also be residence to 2 different initiatives far upstream, whereas six others are in the pipeline or beneath building.
The “super-dam” nevertheless is in a league of its personal.
Last October, the Tibet native authorities signed a “strategic cooperation agreement” with EnergyChina, a public building firm specialising in hydroelectric initiatives.
A month later the top of EnergyChina, Yan Zhiyong, partially unveiled the venture to the Communist Youth League, the youth wing of China’s ruling get together.
Enthusiastic about “the world’s richest region in terms of hydroelectric resources”, Yan defined that the dam would draw its energy from the large drop of the river at this specific part.
Beijing could justify the large venture as an environmentally-friendly different to fossil fuels, but it surely dangers upsetting robust opposition from environmentalists in the identical approach because the Three Gorges Dam, constructed between 1994 and 2012.
The Three Gorges created a reservoir and displaced 1.4 million inhabitants upstream.
“Building a dam the size of the super-dam is likely a really bad idea for many reasons,” mentioned Brian Eyler, vitality, water and sustainability program director on the Stimson Center, a US suppose tank.
Besides being identified for seismic exercise, the realm additionally accommodates a singular biodiversity. The dam would block the migration of fish in addition to sediment movement that enriches the soil throughout seasonal floods downstream, mentioned Eyler.
There are each ecological and political dangers, famous Tempa Gyaltsen Zamlha, an environmental coverage specialist on the Tibet Policy Institute, a suppose tank linked to the Tibetan government-in-exile based mostly in Dharamshala, India.
“We have a very rich Tibetan cultural heritage in those areas, and any dam construction would cause ecological destruction, submergence of parts of that region,” he advised AFP.
“Many local residents would be forced to leave their ancestral homes,” he mentioned, including that the venture will encourage migration of Han Chinese employees that “gradually becomes a permanent settlement”.
New Delhi can also be frightened by the venture.
The Chinese Communist Party is successfully in a place to manage the origins of a lot of South Asia’s water provide, analysts say.
“Water wars are a key component of such warfare because they allow China to leverage its upstream Tibet-centred power over the most essential natural resource,” wrote political scientist Brahma Chellaney final month in the Times of India.
The dangers of seismic exercise would additionally make it a “ticking water bomb” for residents downstream, he warned.
In response to the dam thought, the Indian authorities has floated the prospect of constructing one other dam on the Brahmaputra to shore up its personal water reserves.
“There is still much time to negotiate with China about the future of the super-dam and its impacts,” mentioned Eyler.
“A poor outcome would see India build a dam downstream.”