Scrambling for Hydropower in the Himalayas | Wilson Center
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Scrambling for Hydropower in the Himalayas

The Third Pole – an area of the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau and home to the largest reserve of fresh water outside the Arctic and Antarctic—is a region familiar to both earthquakes and dam projects. This irreconcilable reality is at the center of an emerging debate, raising environmental and security concerns as regional governments scramble for clean energy resources and control over a precious water source.
China proposed a dam three times the size of the Three Gorges to be constructed on the Yarlung Tsangpo River—on the border between China and India.  If constructed the dam would draw from the headwaters of the Brahma Putra—one of India’s most important waterways—and directed them to the parched Yellow River in China. India has said that construction of this dam would be taken as a declaration of war.

At this September 26th meeting, chinadialogue’s founder and CEO Isabel Hilton will discuss how current dam building practices add to the security risks of the Third Pole region. Hilton will explain how dams in China and other neighboring may exacerbate natural hazards—particularly earthquakes and floods—which can increase political tensions in this militarized and politically unstable region.  Drawing on his extensive work on hydropower projects with the Asian Development Bank’s energy program, Dan Millison (Transcendergy, LLC) will talk about dam building trends in Nepal and India, contrasting them with dams in China.