China Mulls Building Hydroelectric Dams in Southern Tibet


Brahmaputra River in Tibet, photo: Gerry Chu.

In a move that is sure to prove increasingly controversial as the details become more fleshed out, Chinese officials in Lhasa, Tibet have indicated that they are considering developing a series of dams in southern Tibet.

The Guardian reports that the director of the region's water resource department said, "Tibet is rich in water resources and has good potential for setting up more hydropower stations and dams. With the economic development of Tibet we need more resources. We will take great care in protecting Tibet's natural life and consider the [impact] on society."

Though the exact number of dams being considered has not been specified, the proposal has already aroused opposition:Relocation Can't Compensate for Environmental, Spiritual Disruption
The Guardian quoted Tibetan water resource researcher Tashi Tsering of the University of British Columbia:

The rivers and mountains where these dams will be built and new reservoirs will inundate are often considered sacred. Resettlement cannot solve the issue.

Tsering also indicated that the impact assessments also fail to account for the changes in water quality and the role free flowing rivers have in an ecosystem.

Millions Downstream Depend on Tibet's Rivers
The Tibetan plateau is the location of the origin of many of the sacred rivers of Asia; over their lengths hundreds of millions of people depend on them for their livelihoods. As global warming increases, the amount of water feeding into these rivers is likely to decrease, adding another stress factor on these waterways and the people who live near them.

Chinese studies estimate that in Tibet alone 1,800-billion kWh of electricity could be generated from hydropower.

via: The Guardian
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Tags: China | Electricity | Hydropower | Rivers