Delhi Seminar to Highlight the Importance of Tibet’s Water Resources
19 November 2003: The Environment and Development Desk of the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and the Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre (TPPRC) will organise a seminar titled Use of Tibet’s Water Resources and Its Impacts on the Indian Sub-continent on 22 November 2003 at the India International Centre in New Delhi.
Mr. Thubten Samphel, the Secretary of the Department of Information and International Relations, said, “We are organising this seminar in order to raise awareness about the vital role the Tibetan plateau plays as the source of water resources for millions of people in Asia.” Eight-speakers, are all water or environmental experts or activists will present their views, including Dr. B. G. Verghese from the Centre for Policy Research who authored the book Waters of Hope; Professor V. Subramanian from the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of Environmental Sciences; Mr. Rajendra Singh, a Magsaysay Awardee and the National President of Jal Biradari; Shri Sunder Lal Bahuguna, Chipko Movement; Major General (Retr.) Vinod Saighal, Director, EcoMonitor’s Society; Dr. Claude Arpi, Tibetologist and Environmental activist; Dr. Arun Kumar, Water Expert, and Ms. Tsering Yangchen, the Environment and Development Desk.
Tibet, due to its geographic location and geological formation, is the principal watershed for Asia. Four of the Indian Subcontinent’s largest rivers such as Brahmaputra, Indus, Sutlej and Karnali originate from Tibet. Other important rivers flowing from Tibet include Drichu (Yangtze), Zachu (Mekong), Machu (Huang Ho, Yellow River), Gyalmo Ngulchu (Salween), and Phung Chu/Bhumchu (Arun). Currently 90% of their runoff flows downstream to China, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Since those rivers bring fresh water to over half of Asia’s population, the protection of those headwaters from mismanagement and pollution become very urgent. For the last fifty years, the sustainable management practices of the Tibetan people were dramatically interrupted by Chinese occupation and subsequent “development” policy in Tibet. China’s development program for Tibet include logging of its forests, extraction of its minerals, expansion of urban areas, sizeable population transfer, building of dams and hydro power plants, and construction of military roads and railways. All of these policies were designed to benefit the Chinese Government and the Eastern industrial provinces, at a heavy cost for the Tibetan people and the Plateau’s fragile ecosystem.
Much of the environmental damage caused by China’s practices contributes directly to the destruction of Tibet’s mighty rivers. These rivers feeding most of Asia, are now often choked with silt, flooded with excess waters, or even dry where they used to run strong. So this seminar, Mr. Samphel said, ” also hopes to raise awareness on Tibet’s water resources in this UN Year of Fresh Water”.
Lobsang Galak (Mr)
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