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Web Exclusive | February 2013

Centre to discuss Arunachal hydro projects

Union Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth is to discuss issues relating to hydropower generation in Arunachal Pradesh. With China planning to divert water from rivers that flow into the Brahmaputra to the arid zones of Xinjiang and Gansu, India is worried about the slow pace of work on projects awarded in the state that borders the neighbouring country.

Construction work on 88 hydropower projects totalling 33,154.5 megawatt (MW) awarded to private companies by the Arunachal Pradesh government hadn’t been started as of late last year.

Any delay in the construction of hydropower projects in the region, particularly on rivers originating in China, will affect India’s strategy of establishing its prior-use claim, according to international law.

India has a power generation capacity of 211,766 mw, of which 18.6 per cent or 39,416 mw is hydropower. Arunachal Pradesh boasts the highest potential for hydropower generation in the country. The potential of the north-eastern states and Bhutan in this regard is about 58,000 mw. Of this, Arunachal Pradesh accounts for 50,328 mw, or about 87 per cent.

Given the potential of Arunachal Pradesh and the number of power projects that are planned there, the concern is genuine, said another government official, who also didn’t want to be identified. Hydropower generation potential from the Brahmaputra is 15,000-20,000 mw, according to the Central Water Commission.

While 60 per cent of the water in the Brahmaputra comes from India, 40 per cent comes from Tibet, an autonomous region of China. India’s ministries of water resources and power had expressed their reservations over China’s ambitious $62 billion south-north water diversion scheme. China is building a number of projects on the Brahmaputra.

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