BEIJING: The Chinese parliament has approved construction of a major dam and hydropower plant on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river in Tibet, near the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The mega project blueprint, which includes a contentious hydropower project on the Brahmaputra river in Tibet near the Arunachal Pradesh border for which India has expressed concern, is worth billions of dollars.
On the last day of its six-day session on Thursday, the National People's Congress (NPC), China's legislature with over 2,000 members mostly from the ruling Communist Party, adopted the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for national economic and social development, as well as long-term goals through the year 2035, said official reports.
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The NPC accepted a development blueprint containing 60 proposals for speeding up China's development, which was attended by Chinese president Xi Jinping, premier Li Keqiang, and other senior leaders. The Communist Party of China (CPC) passed it last year.
China had claimed at the time that it was within its legal rights to build a dam on the river's lower reaches, also known as the Yarlung Tsangpo. The hydropower project would take into account the needs of downstream countries India and Bangladesh, according to Beijing.
During the closing ceremony annual session of the National People's Congress, at least two top Chinese officials talked about the project's significance.
The construction of hydropower project on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river, alongside the Sichuan-Tibet railway and the coastal railway project along the Yangtze river, is a world-class landmark project, according to He Lifeng, director of China's top planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
During the NPC session, Che Dalha, the Tibet Autonomous Region's deputy Communist Party president, said that authorities should "strive to begin construction (of the dam) this year."
Dalha said that “comprehensive preparation and environmental impact assessments for the project should be accepted as soon as possible.”
The new dam's hydropower energy capacity could be three times that of China's Three Gorges Dam, which has the world's largest installed hydropower capacity.
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