By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, September 26: Students for a Free Tibet-India (SFT-India) successfully held its first International Seminar on ‘Damming Crisis in Tibet’ and its devastating consequences on the down stream Asian nations in New Delhi to globalize the call for protecting Tibet’s rivers.
Speakers from Thailand, Bangladesh and India, along with over 150 Indian and Tibetan students, civil society members and experts, attended the seminar held on Sep 23 at the India International Centre in New Delhi.
The seminar is part of SFT-India’s campaign – ‘Tibet’s Rivers, Asia’s LifeLine’ which was launched in March 2015 to highlight the damming crisis on Tibet’s rivers, with a particular focus on Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra.
“What we need is more awareness on this looming environmental disaster and trans-boundary mechanisms for accountability on water sharing. With this in mind, we are hosting an International Seminar on the ‘Damning Crisis in Tibet’ in the lead up to September 25, World Rivers Day to globalize the call for protecting Tibet’s river,” said Tenzin Tselha, National Director at Students for a Free Tibet India in a release.
China’s systematic damming of Tibet’s rivers and extensive water diversion projects has caused devastating upshots for not only Tibet but also the down stream Asian nations.
China has built a total of 21 dams on Mekong, 24 on Salween or Nu river, 2 on Indus and 11 on the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra river).
“Through this seminar, we aim to expose China’s act of irresponsible and dangerous dam construction and diversion projects. Our objective is to form an alliance of students, activists and environment stakeholders from the downstream countries, calling to protect Tibet’s rivers”, said Lobsang Tseten, Program Director at Students for a Free Tibet-India.
Tibet, also known as the ‘Third Pole’ encompasses the largest store of permanent ice and permafrost apart from the South and North poles. It is also the source of the headwaters for Asia’s ten major rivers providing lifeline for 25 percent of the world population.
“This is the right time for India to raise the Tibet issue internationally”, newindianexpress.com quoted Prof Milap Chandra Sharma, a glaciologist at JNU, as saying in its report, Sept 23.
“When it comes to diplomacy, China uses rivers as a bargain chip,” the report also quoted Tanasak Phosrikun, a Mekong river activist from Thailand as saying.