‘China’s move to turn river flow in Tibet is bad for India’
New Delhi, Oct 5 (IANS) China’s vast requirement for water is pushing it into making some rivers originating in the Tibetan Plateau flow upstream – which would spell trouble for India, said Tibetan political leader Lobsang Sangay.
Speaking to select journalists in the Indian capital Friday, Sangay said northeast China faces severe water shortage. “Sixty percent of the country needs water from somewhere,” he said.
“Chinese companies are building 20 dams per river in the Tibetan Plateau, and on some rivers efforts are made to turn it upstream If that happens what will happen to the river flow downstream?” said Sangay, who completed one year as political leader of the Tibetans.
The damming of the rivers was also affecting their natural flow downstream, and along with it the fishing activities of people in India and Bangladesh, he said.
The annual floods in the Brahmaputra river that affect thousands in eastern India and Bangladesh every year is due to largescale deforestation in Tibet and the resultant silting, said Sangay.
The deforestation has led to glaciers in Tibet melting at a rapid pace and causing floods downstream.
“What happens in Tibet is vital for India,” said Sangay, urging India to take up the issue of Tibet in its talks with China.
He also said that China was advancing its development activities rapidly in Tibet.
China has already built five major airfields in Tibet and is building another. “China has 23 military divisions in Tibet… the railway line from Beijing to Lhasa has been extended further and will soon come to Nepal and Sikkim.”
Sangay also said that China should stop the migration of Han Chinese into Lhasa, “where more than 50 percent people in urban areas are Chinese”.
Giving details of the extent of the migration of Han Chinese, Sangay said: “Seventy percent businesses in Lhasa are owned by Chinese, 50 percent of the public sector jobs and posts in the Communist Party in Tibet belong to Chinese. On the other hand, 40 percent of Tibetan high school and college graduates are unemployed,” he said.
He also criticized China’s move to “forcibly rehabilitate” hundreds of thousands of nomads in Tibet, who are traditional herders of yak and sheep.
“The nomads have been taken to no man’s land, to cemented buildings, and cut off from their traditional way of living. They have no source of earning money now and are forced to sell their sheep and yak,” said Sangay.
A large number of Tibetans fled their homeland in the 1950s after communist China overwhelmed Tibet. Their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has lived in India since 1959. Some 140,000 Tibetans live in exile around the world, over 100,000 of them in India. The Tibetan government-in-exile, of which Sangay is the political leader, is not recognised by any country.