Guwahati: State authorities of the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh have been informed by the Indian prime minister that China has formally clarified that it is not building a dam on its side of the Brahmaputra river. This clarification was passed on by the prime minister to a delegation of state legislators in the course of a meeting in New Delhi on Monday.
According to Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu, who headed the delegation, "The prime minister assured us that there was no dam being constructed over the Brahmaputra by China. In fact, Beijing had formally communicated this to the Indian government."
The clarification comes amidst a storm of media reports that China may be initiating plans to construct a $167 million hydro-power plant in Zangmu, 140 km southeast of Tibet's capital Lhasa. Reports also suggest that water from Tibet may diverted to its parched north-west and north-east territories, including the Gobi desert.
"We are happy with the prime minister's assurance," Khandu said.
Fears were expressed recently that any water diversion or damming activities on the Brahmaputra in Tibet could result in a natural disaster for down-stream states in the region, such as India and Bangladesh.
China and India have been unofficially engaged in a war of words, mainly through the media over claims and counter-claims over vast tracts of territory in the western sectors of Ladakh, central sectors of Uttaranchal and the eastern sector of Arunachal Pradesh.
Beijing has been especially incensed over the upcoming visit of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh. The Dalai Lama is an acknowledged leader, both spiritual and temporal, of the Tibetan people and heads a government in exile in India.