Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty WorldSM
How India’s River Row with China Shows The Growing Importance of Water Security

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, an interesting look at the tension between India and China over

A river that flows through India, China, Bangladesh and Bhutan is churning up the issue of water security in a fast-developing region.

The river–which is called Brahmaputra in India–is a source of tension between India and China and how those two countries are managing it affects Bangladesh downstream, a new report by Washington-based nonprofit, CNA Analysis and Solutions says.

The report, titled “Water Resource Competition in the Brahmaputra River Basin: China, India, and Bangladesh,” recommends ways the countries can stop the issues from drifting out of control.

Here’s a brief rundown of the report.

  • Where does the river flow?

    The river originates in China, where it is known as the Yarlung Tsangpo. It then flows through India and Bangladesh, before entering the Bay of Bengal. Part of the river’s basin is also in Bhutan. In India, it runs through six states in the country’s east and northeast covering a distance of about 570 miles. In parts of India, it is also known as the Siang and in Bangladesh, as the Jamuna.

    The river’s basin covers 580,000 square kilometers (224,000 square miles) through the four countries. The World Bank estimates that India and China occupy 50% and 34% of that area.

     

  • Why is the river important to China?

    The river is strategically important for China, mainly for its hydropower potential. The report said China has already built one hydropower dam on the river and plans to raise four more. China is worried about India’splans to build hydroelectric dams in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, whose border is disputed by both countries.

    China worries that plans to build on the river could “strengthen India’s ‘actual control’ over the disputed region and complicate border negotiations,” the report said. This could amplify tensions between India and China.

     

  • And, to India?

    For India the waterway is one of its seven major rivers and is of immense political significance, the report said. Upholding rights on the river isn’t only key to India to consolidate its existing control over land that is contested with China, but also to cater to its need to manage flooding and soil erosion in the country’s northeast.

     

  • What do the recommendations say?

    The report recommends an increase in sharing of hydrological data by India and China. China does so during the flood season and itshould consider offering “real-time, year-round river flow data to India,” the report says. India should do the same.

    India should disclose how many dams it plans to build, the report said.

    It also recommends an annual three-nation dialogue with participation from university and think-tank scholars from India, China and Bangladesh to discuss not just diplomatic, but scientific aspects of water-sharing, like potential ways to mitigate the effects of climate change. 



This entry was posted on Monday, May 9th, 2016 at 5:00 am and is filed under Bangladesh, China, India.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

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