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Price of Damming Tibet’s Rivers


This picture taken on September 3, 2014 shows a man taking pictures of floodwater released from the Three Gorges Dam, a gigantic hydropower project on the Yangtze river, in Yichang, central China's Hubei province, after heavy downpours in the upper reache

Despite being the most dammed country in the world, China has plans to build more dams on the rivers originating from Tibet to meet the energy and water supply need of the Chinese towns and cities, according to Michael Buckley, the author of 'Meltdown in Tibet.'

In his latest opinion piece in New York Times, Mr. Buckey argues that “the damming does not benefit those who live in Tibet. The energy generated is transferred to power-hungry industrial cities farther east. Tibetans are forcibly deprived of their land; protests against hydropower projects are prohibited or violently dispersed.”

Aside from the damming projects in Tibet, China is aggressively looking at the possibility of diverting major rivers of Tibet for mining, farming, and factory related purpose. While some rivers have already being diverted for mining purposes inside Tibet, China plans to divert further with water from the “Brahmaputra, Salween, and Mekong — all rivers that cross national boundaries.”

Mr. Buckly writes in his opinion piece that damming and diverting them will have a severe impact on their lives and environment, especially when you consider that rice and wheat require water-intensive cultivation.

Zamlha Tenpa Gyatsen, Environmental Researcher at Tibet Policy Center agrees with Mr. Buckley that the best solution to meet China’s energy need and also for the development projects in Tibet is to deploy alternative sources of energy like solar and wind energy.

Since Tibet has a huge potential for solar and wind energy, it is very important to harness this clean energy source to protect Tibet’s fragile ecosystem, says Mr. Tenpa Gyatsen to VOA Tibetan service. He further mentioned that under Xi Xinping's rule, damming projects in Tibet seems to be accelerating.

Buckley tells VOA that the main reason for writing that piece was to create more awareness on the issue and that the responses he received from the readers were overwhelming.

In this radio piece, VOA looks at some of the key issues Mr. Buckley raises in his opinion piece and the reactions the opinion piece received from other sources.

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