TNN, Assam Tribune, 4 November 2017
GUWAHATI: The president of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, on Friday said the international community must ensure that Tibetans have a say on any development project undertaken in the ecologically fragile plateau, which is also known as ‘water tower’ of Asia.
Even as Beijing has refuted reports on building a 1000-km-long tunnel to divert the Brahmaputra, known as Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet, to the arid Xinjiang region, Sangay said it is a fact that 12% of China’s population has access to fresh water.
“The prospects of diverting water from the rivers of Tibet looms large as parts of China are facing a water crisis. If this happens, nearly 1.4 billion people, who are dependent on water from rivers originating in Tibet, including the Brahmaputra, will be in great danger,” Sangay said on the concluding day of Balipara Foundation’s Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum, 2017, here on Friday.
He added that diversion of rivers in Tibet is imminent as China is pressed by the need to provide water to parched regions.
“This is not a political statement, rather a serious environmental concern, involving water security issues of a huge section of people in countries who are dependent on the water from Tibetan rivers,” he said.
He added that the Tibetan people, who have been living in harmony with nature because of their religious beliefs and cultural practices, should have a say on development projects in the region.
“In fact, environment is not an issue affecting the Tibetans only. It is a global subject because of the large number of rivers originating from the Himalayan glaciers in the region and sustaining ecosystems in neighbouring countries. The international community must take note of this fact and make China ensure that Tibetans have a say on development projects planned in Tibet,” said Sangay.
He added that even a section of Chinese environment scientists have expressed concern over increasing threats to Tibet’s fragile ecosystem. “There are studies which suggest that Tibet’s 46,000 glaciers are likely to get reduced to 50% by 2100 because of global warming. If this happens, the sources of fresh water will be gone by then,” Sangay said.