China is all set to build a 1,000-km long tunnel, the world’s longest, to divert water from Brahmaputra river in Tibet close to Arunachal Pradesh to the parched Xinjiang region.
Quoting a Chinese media report, news agency PTI said that the move, that is expected to “turn Xinjiang into California”, has raised concerns among environmentalists about its likely impact on the Himalayan region.
Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that the proposed tunnel, which would drop down from the world’s highest plateau in multiple sections connected by waterfalls, would provide water in China’s largest administrative division, comprising vast swathes of deserts and dry grasslands.
The water would be diverted from the Yarlung Tsangpo River in southern Tibet, which turns into the river Brahmaputra once it enters India, to the Taklamakan desert in Xinjiang.
China’s longest tunnel is the 85-km Dahuofang water project in Liaoning province, while the world’s longest tunnel is the 137-km main water supply pipe beneath the city of New York.
India, a riparian state, has already flagged its concerns to Beijing about various dams being built by it on Brahmaputra river, which is known as Yarlung Tsangpo in China.
Beijing has been assuring India and Bangladesh, which is also a recipient of the waters from the river, that its dams were of the run of river projects and not designed to storing water.
Wang Wei, a researcher who helped draft the latest Tibet- Xinjiang water tunnel proposal, which was submitted to the central government in March, said more than 100 scientists formed different teams for the nationwide research effort. He was part of the team which was led by China’s top tunnelling expert, Wang Mengshu.
The team, according to the report suggested draining the Brahmaputra at Sangri county in southern Tibet, close to Arunachal Pradesh.
“Sangri county featured a large, relatively flat valley that was ideal for the engineering project. An artificial island would be built in the middle of the river to create rapid turbulence, which could filter out sediment, and direct water to a well. The well could control the amount of water flowing into the tunnel,” the report said.