Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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India Wary Of China’s New Mega-Dam In Tibet, Fears Flash Floods & Landslides

Flooded Brahmaputra River

(Photo : Reuters) An aerial view of a flooded river island in the Brahmaputra river in Majuli, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam September 24, 2012. Floods and landslides caused by relentless rain in northeast India have killed at least 33 people and displaced more than a million over the past week, officials said on Monday. REUTERS/Stringer (INDIA - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)

Despite assurances from China that the newly built Zangmu Hydropower Station on the Tibetan Plateau will not harm India's downstream states, the Indian government is still wary that it could trigger flash floods and expose them to other risks such as landslides and endanger the lives of millions of Indians.

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The river, which Indians call Brahmaputra, is one of the strongest waterways among Himalayan rivers and provides irrigation to some of the faraway and agricultural areas of India's northeastern states.

China had informed India of the construction of a 116 meter-high dam, said Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin and gave its assurance that "it should have no implication for us."

On Sunday, the dam's first generating unit which stands over 3,300 meters above sea level, became operational and would generate 510,000 kilowatts of electricity. Given its scale, the dam is the largest constructed on the Tibetan plateau, reports NDTV. The five other units are slated for completion in 2015.

When all construction work is done after four years, the dam is expected to generate 2.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity yearly, according to China.

However, Times of India pointed out that the country is unaware that the dam would affect the river's flow into Arunachal Pradesh and other northeastern states.

Environmentalists are questioning the need for the dam project, one of China's five ventures on the Brahmaputra that targets to generate 2,000 megawatts of hydro power when the region has low industrialization and don't need that much extra power. They also pointed out that it would affect the Tibetan region's fragile ecology.

An official of the Tibet Electric Power told Xinhua, "The hydropower station will solve Tibet's power shortage, especially in the winter."

But Hua Chunying, spokeswoman of China's foreign ministry, insisted, "The hydropower stations China builds will not affect the flood prevention and ecological system of downstream areas."

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