River diversion by China imminent : Tibetan leader

Lobsang Sangay, the president of Central Tibetan administration in exile, today said that diversion of rivers in Tibet is imminent as China has a pressing need to provide water to its dry regions.

China has denied reports that it is constructing a 1000-km-long tunnel to divert the Brahmaputra river, known as Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet.

Sangay, who was in Guwahati to attend a programme, said that the international community must take up the case with China so that the people of Tibet have a say in the development of Chinese projects.

Tibetan plateau is known as ‘Water tower’ of Asia.

He said that only 12 per cent of people in China have access to fresh water. “The prospect of diverting water from the rivers of Tibet which is known as the water tower of Asia looms as a large part of China is facing water crisis. If this happens, nearly 1.4 billion people who are dependent on water from rivers originating in Tibet including Brahmaputra, will be in great danger,” he said.

Sangay said China is under pressure to address its water shortage, which is why a diversion of rivers could be imminent. This is likely to result in serious environmental concerns for countries dependent on Tibetan rivers for water.

A large number of rivers originate from Himalayan glaciers. Even many environmental scientist in China have expressed concerns about the fragile nature of Tibet’s ecosystem.

Sangay said, “Studies suggest that Tibet’s 46,000 glaciers are likely to get reduced in volume to 50 per cent by 2100 because of global warming.”

By: ET

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