India taking up China dam issue: Arunachal minister

India is negotiating with the international community over China's plans to construct a dam across the Brahmaputra in Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh Power Minister Jabron Gamlin said here Wednesday.

'The Indian government is taking up the matter with the international community and also with the Chinese government to guarantee that the dam does not affect the river's flow downstream (into India),' Gamlin said.

China plans to build a $167 million hydropower plant in Zangmu, 140 km southeast of Tibet's capital Lhasa, besides diverting water to its parched northwest and northeast territories, which includes the Gobi desert.

The 2,906-km-long Brahmaputra is one of Asia's longest rivers that traverses its first stretch of 1,625 km in Tibet, the next 918 km in India and the remaining 363 km in Bangladesh before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

'China's constructing a dam is a cause of concern for us, but we are not certain how big this dam is and what affect it would have on people living downstream,' Gamlim told IANS on the sidelines of the two-day North East Power Minister's meet here.

China's plans of building a dam over the Brahmaputra river and diverting water into its arid provinces has been opposed by regional governments in India's northeast.

Experts say the Zangmu dam is a 'run of the river' power generation project and is of no cause for alarm as it would not divert the river's course.

Other experts say that if that project is commissioned it would almost certainly have devastating consequences on the lives of millions of people living in India and Bangladesh.

Agriculture forms the backbone of the economy in both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with nearly 80 percent of the 27 million people in the two states eking out a living through farming, an agriculture scientist said.

But, with China not sharing much information about the dam, it's not certain how big it is.

Apart from the dam, China is reportedly planning to divert 200 billion cubic metres of water to feed the Yellow River in an attempt to ease the acute water shortage in Shaanxi, Hebel, Beijing and Tianjin. The 'South-to-North Water Diversion' project is currently being debated in Beijing for its technical feasibility, reports say.

India and China do not have a water-sharing agreement. Until recently, water sharing was never on the agenda of bilateral talks between the two countries.