China’s Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday that construction had “formally” started on the controversial Zangmu hydel power project on the Brahmaputra. Reports suggest the project may involve water storage for irrigation and flood control. That should worry India—with the river flowing through large parts of Arunachal Pradesh, any disruption in the water level would not only affect downstream livelihoods, it may also create instabilities in a sensitive area.
What is India doing about this? By all accounts, very little. In April, when China finally admitted the project’s existence, foreign minister S.M. Krishna told Parliament, in effect, that it was nothing to worry about. And Beijing has resisted any bilateral agreement such as the Indus Water Treaty, which governs the use of Indus waters in India and Pakistan. China will do whatever is in its interest. The question is whether India will do the same.