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India’s Upper Siang hydroelectric project, to counter China’s dam on Brahmaputra

Upper Siang Multipurpose Storage

National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) has submitted a pre-feasibility report to the Central Electricity Authority of India for the ‘Upper Siang Multipurpose Storage’, India’s largest hydel power project to date to come up in Arunachal Pradesh. This will be 11 gigawatt (GW) project. India may spend ₹1.13 trillion to build the Upper Siang multi-purpose storage project at Yingkiong in Arunachal Pradesh.

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The Urgency Behind The Project:-

  1. The production of hydel power from the project is “simply a byproduct”, pointing out that the main purpose of the project is to counter China’s water diversion scheme to the Yarlung Tsangpo river in China – which flows into Arunachal as the Siang and then as the Brahmaputra in Assam.
  2. India’s solution to the problem is the Upper Siang project, which will act as a reservoir. In the event of a diversion of water by China, the massive reservoir will be able to feed Arunachal Pradesh and its irrigation requirements, said officials.
  3. China is building a flurry of dams, with construction underway of a 360 MW dam at Gyatso and a 560 MW dam at Jiexu. Three more dams – 640 MW at Dagu, 710 MW dam at Bayu and 800 MW dam at Zhongyu – are in advanced stages of planning,
  4. The push for hydro power projects in the border state of Arunachal Pradesh assumes importance given China’s 14th five-year plan proposing building a massive dam over the Brahmaputra river, known in China as the Yarlung Tsangpo, a development that has raised concerns in India because of the strategic ramifications.

For India, Brahmaputra accounts for 30 per cent of freshwater resources and 40 per cent of the total hydroelectric power potential of the country. The Upper Siang reservoir will store 9 billion cubic meters of water.


The Brahmaputra is a trans-boundary river which flows through Tibet, northeast India, and Bangladesh. It is also known as the Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibetan, the Siang/Dihang River in Arunachali, Luit in Assamese, and Jamuna River in Bangla. It is the 9th largest river in the world by discharge, and the 15th longest.

  • It is a perennial river and has several peculiar characteristics due to its geography and prevailing climatic conditions.
  • It is flooded twice annually. One flood is caused by the melting of the Himalayan snow in summer and the other due to the monsoon flows.
  • The river is in itself dynamic as frequent landslides and geological activity force it to change course very often.
India's Upper Siang hydroelectric project, to counter China's dam on Brahmaputra_4.1
Fig 1:- Path of the Brahmaputra River(L) , Tributaries of Brahmaputra(R)

Brahmaputra River Tributaries

1. Manas River

One of the Brahmaputra’s most significant tributaries is the Manas River. It starts in Bhutan, travels through Assam and southern Bhutan before joining the Brahmaputra near Jogighopa. The Manas River is 376 kilometres long and is distinguished by mountainous, steep woods in the upper sections and plains around the river’s mouth.

2. Raidak River

Another tributary of the Brahmaputra in its lower course is the Raidak River. Before merging with the Brahmaputra in the Kurigram area of Bangladesh, it rises in Bhutan in the Himalayas and flows through that country, India, and Bangladesh. The river is 370 km in length overall and is connected by various sub-tributaries in Bhutan.

3. Sankosh River

It is yet another tributary to the Brahmaputra that rises in Bhutan and empties into Assam, India. In Bhutan, it is referred to as Puna Tsang, and its two biggest tributaries are Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu.

4. Kameng River

Another significant tributary of the Brahmaputra is the Jia Bhorali River, also known as the Kameng River, which rises in the Arunachal Pradesh district of Tawang from a glacial lake at the Indo-Tibetan border beneath the Gori Chen Mountain. It passes through Arunachal Pradesh, the Assamese Sonitpur district, and Tezpur before finally joining the Brahmaputra.

5. Dhansiri River

The Dhansiri River is a significant tributary of the Brahmaputra. It begins in Nagaland’s Laisang Peak and runs through the districts of Dimapur and Golaghat before entering the Brahmaputra approximately five kilometres from the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary.

6. Dihing River

Another significant tributary of the Brahmaputra is the Dihing River. Before joining the Brahmaputra in Dihingmukh, it runs through the Assamese districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, and Arunachal Pradesh, starting in the eastern Himalayas’ Patkai mountain range. Numerous oxbow lakes can be found along Dihing’s route.

7. Lohit River

Another significant tributary of the Brahmaputra is the Lohit River. Its source is in the Zayal Chu range in eastern Tibet, and it runs through Arunachal Pradesh for two kilometres before it enters the plains of Assam. At this point, it combines with the Siang and forms the Brahmaputra at the head of the valley. Due to the river’s turbulence, it was given the name Lohit.

8. Tista River

Another tributary of the Brahmaputra is the Tista or Teesta River, which rises in Cholomo Lake in Sikkim and flows across the Himalayan Mountains before entering Bangladesh and joining the Brahmaputra there.

9. Subansiri River

It is yet another significant branch of the Brahmaputra, a river that rises in China’s Himalayas and runs into Tibet and India. It enters the Brahmaputra in the Lakhimpur district of Assam and is 442 kilometres long.

10. Bhogdoi River

The Bhogdoi River is another tributary of the Brahmaputra. It rises in the Naga Hills, passes through the Assamese city of Jorhat, then joins a smaller tributary of the Brahmaputra before joining the main Brahmaputra and spilling into it. Together, these two tributaries are referred to as Gelabill. It was formerly referred to as Desoi.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:
  • NHPC Founded: 7 November 1975
  • NHPC Headquarters: Faridabad, India
  • NHPC Chairman & Managing Director – Shri Rajeev Kumar Vishnoi
  • CEA Founded: 1951
  • CEA Headquarters: New Delhi, India
  • CEA Chairperson – Shri Ghanshyam Prasad

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