Sovereign States and Surging Water: Brahmaputra River between China and India

18 Pages Posted: 21 May 2015 Last revised: 8 Jun 2015

See all articles by Sushanta Mahapatra

Sushanta Mahapatra

University of Bologna - Department of Economics

Keshab Ratha

Sambalpur University

Date Written: May 21, 2015


Brahmaputra river basin is one of the most vulnerable areas in the world subject to combined effects of glacier melt, extreme monsoon rainfall and sea level rise. Water is emerging as a new possible irritant between China and India. For India, Water of Brahmaputra constitutes a major lifeline for people of Tibet and North Eastern states. The building of dams and diversion projects in Tibet by China is a matter of grave concern for lower riparian states. For China, it is having hidden inclination to create employment potentials for more than millions of people by making Brahmaputra diversion project forward. The requirement of fresh water as the pollution grows and population rise has forced China to have the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra River project. The objective of this paper is to focus the reaction of both people on the water diversion issue, disastrous ecological consequences and the urgent necessity for having a water treaty between Asian giants. It also examines the hegemonic tendencies of China on Brahmaputra River & exercise of power for economic gains and outcomes. The policies China takes on trans-Boundary Rivers are not symptom of peaceful nature of its rise. In addition, it establishes the fact that sharing of information, ecosystem-friendly policies, thought and mutual understanding will dispel the suspicion and develop trust between two countries, creating an enabling environment for better management of Brahmaputra River.

Keywords: Water Governance, Trans-Boundary, River Dispute, India, China

JEL Classification: H79, L95, Q28, K33, N50, Q25

Suggested Citation

Mahapatra, Sushanta and Ratha, Keshab, Sovereign States and Surging Water: Brahmaputra River between China and India (May 21, 2015). FEEM Working Paper No. 046.2015, Available at SSRN: or

Sushanta Mahapatra (Contact Author)

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Strada Maggiore 45
Bologna, 40125

Keshab Ratha

Sambalpur University ( email )

United States

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