UPSC MAINS 2020: China funding NGO against hydro projects in Arunachal Pradesh

Topic : China funding NGO against hydro projects in Arunachal Pradesh

Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2: International Affairs


China is trying to fund certain civil society organizations to incite protests against hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh, fear Indian government officials.

What is the issue?

  • China is funding NGO against hydro projects amid India’s efforts to revive work on the long-pending hydro projects, including the 2,000 megawatts (MW) Lower Subansiri and 2,880 MW Dibang projects.
  • India is also trying to expedite the completion of 600MW Tawang-I and 800MW Tawang-II projects in the strategically located state.

Why is china doing so?

  • The hydro projects are located on the rivers which pass through Chinese ‘controlled’ Tibet.
  • Any delay in building hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh on rivers originating in China will affect India’s strategy of establishing its prior-use claim over the waters, according to international law.
  • China wants to delay these projects and divert the water to arid zones of Xinjiang and Gansu under its ambitious south-north water diversion scheme. China is working on south-north water diversion scheme for Yarlung Tsangpo, the upper stream of the Brahmaputra river.
  • If China is able to complete the diversion before Indian hydro power projects, its claim over water will be stronger as per international law.

Reason for China’s Sensitivity Towards Losing Claim Over Tawang

  • The Tawang region in Arunachal Pradesh is the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. Tawang happens to be one of the most significant centres of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • In order to have a tighter control over Tibet, China wants to control future Dalai Lama and in case the future Dalai Lama is chosen from traditionally Tibetan area, like Tawang, which lies outside China’s control, they fear that there could be another generation of Tibetan opposition to the Chinese rule in Tibet.
  • China disregards the Mc Mohan line as the legal delineation between India and China. It says that this was a demarcation agreed upon between erstwhile British Raj and Tibet.
  • It claims sovereign rights over the state of Arunachal Pradesh and calls it South Tibet. Most importantly, it is sensitive to losing Tawang for the reasons stated above.

About Tawang Hydroelectric Project

  • The Tawang Hydroelectric Project is proposed on Tawang chu river. The Tawang Chu and Nyamjang Chu are the two main rivers in Tawang district. The Tawang Chu emerges after the confluence of Mago Chu and Nyukcharong Chu.
  • The river system for Nyukcharong Chu originates from Tibet in the eastern Himalayas.
  • The catchment area of Tawang Chu river lies in the inaccessible high mountain region of the Himalayas and a major part of it is located outside the Indian territory in Tibet. About 65% of the catchment area of this river lies in Tibet.
  • The forest advisory committee of the ministry of environment had earlier deferred clearance to the 600MW Tawang hydroelectric project, saying that the location is a vital wintering ground for the black-necked crane, an endangered species, and other birds.

Sample Question:

Do you think China’s concerns and reactions to India’s activities in Arunachal Pradesh are driven by its insecurity about India’s rise in Asia? Examine. (200 Words)