It is dam building spree in Asian countries like China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan etc, endangering the globe's most famous mountain range -Himalaya. Most of the Himalayan rivers have been so far relatively untouched by dams near the sources.Now with the vast dam construction sprees, foot water resources have plunged into risk zone. In the process, all these countries have engaged themselves in a huge "water grab"in the Himalayas for constructing hydro-electricity generation units for boosting up their economy, At least Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan has planned for constructing more than 400 hydro dams which, if built, could together generate over 160,000 MW of electricity-three times more than United Kingdom uses. Apart from that, China has alone planned for about 100 dam construction to generate a similar amount of power from major rivers rising in Tibet. A further 60 or more dams are being planned for the Nekong river, which also rises in Tibet and flows south through south-east Asia. Now, the two Asian giant power-India and China, are competing each other to harness the rivers as they cut through some of the world's deepest valleys. It is estimated most of the proposed dams would be tallest in the world, for generating 4,000 MW, as much as the Hoover dam on the Colorado river in the USA.
Ecological and environment balance is already under tremendous pressure throughout the globe. Dam construction in Himalayan mountain and forest range will further disturb environment and ecology.Climate change will further warm the world and will trap millions in the world in poverty. A world Bank report has cautioned the people of these predicaments and says, " we could see a plus 2o C scenario in rise in temperature in 20 to 30 years and plus fouroC by the end of century". Amiya Kumar Bagachi in his book "Perilous Passage-Mankind and the Global Ascendancy of Capital has said, " Much of the advance of European capitalists and other members of the European ruling class was at the cost of the colonised and enslaved peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Capital expansion following the Industrial Revolution involved unmitigated exploitation of natural resources and world labour. The search for profit-led to the colonisation of the world and the pauperisation of much of what is today called the Global South. The over exploitation of the fossil fuels has meant that climate change has become an imminent threat. Underdeveloped nations will continue to bear the burnt." A scientific report commissioned by the World Bank, " Turn Down herat:Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience" looks at the possible impact of global warming by 2oCelsius and 4o C on the most vulnerable parts of the world.
Recent haphazard construction of dams in Uttarakhand, a tiny state of Indian Union in Himalayan range has resulted into nature fury to worse scale, killing thousands of people and damaging property of crores of rupees. My three recent blog essays : Threat to Life on the Earth vis-a-vis the Earth itself Threatened; Uttarakhand Tragedy due to Nature's Fury and Also a man-made Devastation and Dangerous Signal for Nepal Because of Climate Change in Himalaya........... have dwelt in length about the shape of devastated globe because of climate change and disturbances in ecological balances in various region of earth , particularly Asia .www.kksingh1.blogspot.com
Further more, climate models suggest that major rivers running off the Himalayas, after increasing flows as glaciers melt, could lose 10-20 of their flow by 2050. This would not only reduce the rivers' capacity to produce electricity, but would exacerbate regional political tensions. The dams have already led to protest movements in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Assam and other northern states of India and in Tibet. Protrsts in Uttarakhand, which was devastated by floods last month, were led by Prof G D Agarawal, who was taken to hospital after a 50-day fast but who was released this week. A member of Ganga Avahan, a group opposing proposals for a series of dams on Ganga, Mallika Bhanot has said, " there is no other way but to continue because the state government is not keen to review the dam policy"
More over, the governments have tried to convince and calm people by saying that many of the dams will not require large reservoirs but will be "run of the river" constructions which channel water through tunnels to massive turbines. But critics say that the damage done can be just as great..Shripad Dharmadhikary, a leading opponent of the Narmada dams and the author of a report into Himalayan dams the river flow, has said, " These dams will shift the complete path of the river flow." Everyone will be affected because the rivers will dry up between points. The whole hydrology of the rivers will be changed. It is likely to Aggravate floods . A dam may only need 500 people to move because of submergence but because the dams stop the river flow it could impact on 20000 people. They also disrupt the groundwater flows so many people will end up with water running dry. There will be devastation of livelihood along all the rivers."
According to Ed Grumbine, visiting international scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Kunming; in next 20 years "could be that the Himalayas become the most dammed region in the world".Grumbine, author of a paper in Science has said , "India aims to construct 292 dams....doubling current hydro power capacity and contributing six percent to the projected national energy needs. If all dams are constructed as proposed in 28 of 32 major river valleys, the Indian Himalayas would have one of the highest average dam densities in the world, with one dam for every 32 km of river channel. Every neighbour of India with undeveloped hydro-power sites is building or planning to build multiple dams, totalling at minimum 129 projects."
If the present pace of building multiple dams on all major rivers running off the Tibetan plateau by China is likely to emerge as the ultimate controller of water for nearly 40 percent of the world's population. Tashi Tsering, a water resource researcher at the University of British Columbia in Canada has said, " the plateau is the source of the single largest collection of international rivers in the world including the Mekong, the Brahmputra, the Yangtse and the Yellow rivers. It is the head water of the rivers on which nearly the half the world depends. the net effect of the dam building could be disastrous. We just do not know the consequences."
Notably the border disputes between India and China appeared to have shifted from land territory to water. Water in rivers in Himalayas and other mountain range along Indo-China border is going to be apple of discord between India and China in the light of harnessing the water for electricity by constructing dams.. Indian Geopolitical analyst Brahma Chellaney has said , " China is engaged in the greatest water grab in history. Not only it is damning the rivers on the plateau, it is financing and building mega-dams in Pakistan, Laos, Burma and elsewhere and making agreements to take the power. China-India disputes have shifted from ;land to water. Water is new divide and is going centre stage in politics. Only China has the capacity to build these mega dams and the power to crush resistance. This is effectively war without a shot, being fired."
Chellaney has further said, " India is in the weakest position because half its water comes directly from China; however, Bangala Desh is fearful of India's plans for water diversions and hydro power. Bangala Deshi scientists were of the opinion that even a 10 percent reduction in the water flow by India could dry out great areas of farmland for much of the year. More than 80 percent of Bangala Desh's 50 million small farmers depend on water that flows through India.Bangal Desh is fearful\
In my earlier blog essays, I have written about disastrous consequences from dam constructions. Dams construction will gradually increase the chances of flood as we have witnessed in Uttarakhand recently. Haphazard construction of dams without serious planning will not only make entire Himalayan range vulnerable to floods but also serious implications of earthquake in far and wide areas. Virtually , there have been no exercise prior to dam constructions by these countries . No attention has been paid on the human and ecological impact of dams. The Co-coordinator of South Asia Network on Dams Himanshu Thakkar has said, " We do not have credible environmental and social impact assessments, we have no environmental compliance system, no cumulative impact assessment and no carrying capacity studies. The Indian Ministry of Environment and Forest, developers and , consultants are responsible for this mess."
For dam constructions and other related projects, India and China have notoriety in displacing tens of millions of tribal and other persons by constructing big and giant dams like Narmada and Three Gorges over the past 30 years. Surprisingly both India and China are keeping silence over how many person have been affected or affected persons have been reallocated and how much land are being submerged after the construction of new dams in both these countries. Tsering has said, " This is being totally ignored. No one knows, either, about the impact of climate change on the rivers. The dams are all being built in rivers that are fed by glaciers and snowfields which are melting at a fast rate."
Thus - there is supremacy for water at the cost of crores of people of Asia. And Himalaya will be in danger !
Sources :Internet sites including The Observer, China and India, Universities other sites !