Home / News / India /  India, China contest for hegemony on Brahmaputra; Beijing makes 'drought' plan

It has often been discussed that China is trying to build big dam projects and hydroelectric plants on the Brahmaputra river, but China has always denied those claims. However, in a recent study by European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), a Netherlands-based think-tank said that China is making a strategy to dominate on Bhraputra basin.

According to the think tank, regional tensions in South Asia are likely to escalate rather than reduce due to the energy shift between India and China.

The energy transition and a shift from fossil-based systems of power production to renewable, strategies in China and India have increased the focus on exploring and exploiting the Brahmaputra river system.

The think tank has said that for China, changing the way of energy production has become a major challenge for its heavy growth model and manufacturing industry.

The world is also under pressure to produce green energy and reduce the level of environmental pollution. Therefore China is pursuing a strategy of transition to renewable energy by reducing its excessive dependence on fossil fuels.

According to the think tank, this same energy transition strategy of China (emphasis on renewable energy rather than a fossil-based system for electricity generation) has increased the chances of conflict between China and India in the Brahmaputra river system as both countries share the region.

Recently, China announced that it will aim for carbon neutrality by 2060 and wants to be at the forefront of energy innovation. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will try to maximize its emission before 2030.

Meanwhile, India has set a target of 40% non-fossil fuel generation by 2030. Between 2010 and 2018, India doubled its renewable energy capacity. As per the EFSAS report, India has the fifth-largest hydropower potential.

India's growing focus on hydropower on the BRS as a key renewable is buttressed by two underlying trends. Firstly, climate change and the resulting energy transition create an increasing demand for renewable energy and a higher focus on hydropower exploration. Secondly, the growing liberalization of the electricity market leads to an increased importance of profit margins and less attention to local and regional concerns regarding large-scale projects that are outweighed by the transition goals of the central government.

India is also increasing its reliance on the Brahmaputra basin for hydroelectric potential. In such a situation, the conflict between China and India is expected to escalate. According to Live Hindustan's report, China's hydroelectric projects on the Yarlung Zangbo river (the Tibetan part of the Brahmaputra river) will convert the Brahmaputra river into a seasonal river in India. The result of this can appear in the form of drought in the northeastern states.

(With ANI inputs)

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