Published By Tenzin Saldon

Images taken of the first landslide (L) and second landslide (R) in Jomda and Palyul, in Chamdo, eastern Tibet. Photo received from Tibet Policy Institute

Dharamshala: More than 30,000 people have been evacuated amid a twin landslide and flooding incidents in Jomda and Palyul, in Chamdo, eastern Tibet.

The first landslide, which struck on 11 October on the mountainside in Bolu Township in the intersection of Jomda and Payul counties caused a serious blockage of the Drichu river, resulting in flooding of the surrounding area.

Within 20 days of the first calamity, a second massive landslide hit the same region, causing further flooding in the area.

The incessant flooding has affected many villages, townships and counties in eastern parts of Tibet located along the Drichu river.

“A thorough and transparent scientific investigation into the real cause or the factors that could have led to the two major landslides in the Bolu Township in Jomda and Palyul region of eastern Tibet must be carried out,” said Zamlha Tempa Gyaltsen, an Environmental Research Fellow at the Tibet Policy Institute, Central Tibetan Administration.

He called for a review on the mode of developmental activities across the Tibetan plateau to ascertain if excessive mining, construction of dams, roads and tunnelling through mountains could have triggered any of the recent landslides and exacerbated the negative impact of rising temperature on the plateau.

“We are extremely disappointed and surprised at the slow and weak response to the second landslide. The first heavy machine to remove earth from the landslide arrived on the site only on the sixth day of the tragedy, and took another five days to release water from the barrier lake as the scale of the landslide was utterly disproportionate to the scale of response the Chinese government put in. Therefore a proper disaster response mechanism should be set up across Tibet to swiftly respond to any natural disasters. Such measures could minimize loss of life and damage to property. Preventive measure should be put up in place to prevent any reoccurrence of such landslides in the region as well as other areas of Tibetan plateau.”

“The hundreds of thousands of Tibetan people temporarily displaced should be given utmost support to fully and quickly rehabilitate and rebuilt their homes,” he said.

Rights group organisation, Free Tibet, reported that Chinese authorities have been conducting excessive mining, development and dam construction projects in the area which, according to the local population, are directly linked to the increased occurrences of flooding, particularly in the regions of Karze and Ngawa.

The Drichu River, also called Yangtze is the largest river in Asia and the third largest in the world after the Nile and Amazon. It serves as an essential component in a series of Chinese large-scale hydro-dam development projects at the Tibetan Plateau’s southeast corner.

Alongside environmental degradation and disruption of the unique ecosystems, the group cited various reports of forced migration because of planned dam constructions in the Tibetan regions.

More than 17,000 Tibetans have been reportedly forced out of their homes due to the planned dam constructions.

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