NEW DELHI: The lives of billions of people living in Asia are at risk as China builds large scale damming of the rivers in Tibet which provide fresh water to downstream Asian nations, Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay said at a conference on “One Tibet to Quench Asia’s Growing Thirst” in New Delhi today. Speakers at the conference include Prof. Sreemati Chakaraborti, Mr. Thubten Samphel, Prof. Abanti Bhattacharya, Prof. Madhu Bhalla, writer Claude Arpi, among others.
Sikyong underlined that the issue of Tibet is not only for 6 millions, but it has major ramification for a billion people in south Asia and South East Asian Nations.
“Tibet is the only one to quench Asia’s thirst for water. A Billion people in Asia, including 400-500 millions people in China and over 500 million people in India, who survive on waters from rivers originating from the Tibetan plateau, are facing fresh water scarcity. When a billion people facing fresh water scarcity, you can see clearly see conflicts and tensions,” he said.
Sikyong expressed deep concern over the geopolitical tension, including war over water in Asia, as predicted by environmental experts. “Water has become a strategic weapon for China,” he said, adding, “China has not signed UN convention on Water Sharing.”
“Environmentalists in China say China has built 87,000 dams, which are not only largest but dangerous too. China plans to build a dam on Brahmaputra larger than one on Yangze river. If that happens, what will happen to the flow of river to India and Bangladesh? If China has the control on the flow of the river, it can have major implication for the crops in downstream countries,” Sikyong said.
“Tibet, known as the world’s Third Pole, has over 47, 000 glaciers which provide water to rivers on which survive 1.3 billion in Asia for freshwater. NASA predicts that 60% of Tibet’s glaciers will melt in the next 40 years. What will happen for these billion people if the glaciers melt at this rate? That is the biggest challenge facing us today,” he said.