Study on China dams brings the Brahmaputra into focus

News:A US backed study has highlighted the impact of China’s dams on the Mekong river (known as Lancang river in China) and countries downstream.This has also raised questions on whether dams being built by China on Brahmaputra river may similarly impact countries downstream.


  • The study was published by the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership in Bangkok and the Lower Mekong Initiative.
  • The Lower Mekong Initiative is a US partnership with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Mekong River:

  • The Mekong River is a trans-boundary river in Southeast Asia.It is the world’s twelfth longest river and the seventh longest in Asia.
  • The river flows from China to Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • Mekong River Commission(MRC):It is an inter-governmental organisation established in 1995 to jointly manage the shared water resources and the sustainable development of the Mekong River.Its members are Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam.

Brahmaputra River:

  • Brahmaputra river also known as the Yarlung Tsangpo has its source in Chemayungdung glacier in Tibet.It flows into three countries namely China, India and Bangladesh.
  • Significance: a) The river accounts for 29% of the total run-off of India’s rivers and b) Brahmaputra basin possess about 44% of India’s total hydropower potential.
  • Concerns: India has expressed concern over dam-building of China on the Brahmaputra.In 2015, China operationalised its first hydropower project at Zangmu While three other dams at Dagu, Jiexu and Jiacha are being developed.
  • India also does not have a water-sharing agreement with China but both sides share hydrological data.