Guwahati: China is constructing a new dam on the Mabja Zangbo river in Tibet, close to the tri-junction of its borders with India and Nepal, new satellite imagery has revealed.

The dam on the Mabja Zangbo river, a tributary of  Ganga, could be used to control the flow of water downstream, Hindustan Times reported.

The development comes in the wake of China unveiling plans to build a “super” dam close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tibet on the lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river, which flows into Arunachal Pradesh as the Siang and then to Assam as the Brahmaputra.

 It also comes at a time when satellite imagery has shown that China has substantially ramped up the creation of military and dual-use infrastructure and villages in the eastern and western sectors of the LAC.

Satellite images tweeted on Thursday by Damien Symon, a geospatial intelligence researcher at the Intel Lab, showed earth development and dam construction activity done by the Chinese side on Mabja Zangbo river in Burang county of Tibet since May 2021. The images depict the obstruction of the river’s path, the formation of a reservoir, and an embankment-type dam.

The new dam is located around 16 km north of the tri-junction and is opposite the Kalapani area of Uttarakhand, according to a The Hindu report.

The Mabja Zangbo river flows into the Ghaghara or Karnali river in Nepal before eventually joining the Ganga in India.

According to the latest satellite images, the dam appears to be 350 metres to 400 metres long, Symon said. “The structure is currently in development, so the purpose is unknown,” he said.

“It appears to be an embankment dam,” he added. “An airport is being constructed nearby as well.”

People familiar with the matter said the dam, located at the strategic tri-junction of China’s borders with India and Nepal and opposite the Kalapani region of Uttarakhand state, could be used to divert or restrict the waters of the Mabja Zangbo river.

In recent years, China has built several smaller dams on the Yarlung Zangbo river, triggering similar concerns related to the Brahmaputra in the North-East.

China in 2020 unveiled its plan to build “super” dam on the lower reached of the Yarlung Zangbo river, in close proximity to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tibet.

Back then, the local media reports of China stated that the new dam would be capable of generating hydropower three times more than that of central China’s Three Gorges Dam, which has the largest installed hydropower capacity in the world.

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