Dams on Brahmaputra can help reduce floods, provide power: Minister

New Delhi, Dec 12: Constructing multipurpose dams on the Brahmaputra river would help reduce floods, among other benefits, union Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat said Thursday.

“Setting up of multipurpose dams on the Brahmaputra would help reduce floods and provide many benefits. Wherever appropriate sites are there, we should set up big hydro projects,” Rawat said in his address to a conference on promoting hydro power organised by the Independent Power Producers Association of India.

Pointing to problems faced by hydel projects like environment and security clearance and land acquisition, Rawat said the government has set up a high powered committee to monitor progress on a monthly basis.

“I have instructed CWC (Central Water Commission) to bring down the clearance time to one-third of the existing time,” the minister said.

Currently, India has plans for 25 hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh. On an average, it takes 10 years to build a dam in India.

Pointing out that currently India is able to tap only five percent of Brahmaputra waters, Rawat said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken up the issue of sharing its waters with China, which had agreed to share only hydro information. No amount of persuasion or negotiation with China is likely to yield a water-sharing agreement.

During Manmohan Singh’s visit to China in October, India and China signed a new agreement to strengthen cooperation on trans-border rivers aimed at allaying India’s concerns over new Chinese dams on the Brahmaputra and facilitating the exchange of flood data.

Under the new agreement, the Chinese side agreed to provide more flood data of Brahmaputra from May to October, instead of June to October under the previous agreements in 2008 and 2010.