The Brahmaputra River is one of the last largely free-flowing rivers emanating from the Tibetan Plateau. Originating as the Yarlung Tsangpo River, it flows across southern Tibet through the Himalayas and into India and Bangladesh before merging with the Ganges and emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
While early speculation that China planned to dam and divert the waters of the Brahmaputra to its parched north appear unfounded, China has been building the Zangmu Hydropower Station on the main stream of the middle reaches of Brahmaputra, the first of a series of five dams planned (see map). The installed capacity of the Zangmu Water Power Station will be 510 MW. The project is located in Lhokha (Shannan) Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region about 140 km southeast from Lhasa. On November 12, 2010, the builders of the Zangmu Hydropower Station announced the successful damming of the river. Huaneng, China's top power company, is backing the financing of the project and, Gezhouba, one of China's biggest dam construction companies, will build the project. Those living downstream, including India and Bangladesh, will likely be greatly impacted.