Wednesday, October 15, 2008

China plans string of dams in south Tibet

The Guardian (UK): China is planning to build a string of new dams in southern Tibet to boost its electricity supply, the region's chief of water resources told the Guardian. Hundreds of millions of people across Asia depend on rivers that originate in Tibet, and previous hydroelectric proposals have proved controversial because of their impact on the environment, local people and communities downstream.

But officials in Lhasa argue the dams are the least damaging way of providing power and raising living standards in the region. "Tibet is rich in water resources and has good potential for setting up more hydropower stations and dams," said Baima Wangdui, director of the region's water resources department. "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."

They add that hydropower is cleaner and more efficient than coal, oil, gas or nuclear power stations to generate electricity. A 2003 study by the ministry of water suggested it could generate 1,800bn kilowatt hours a year in Tibet. The director said he did not know exactly how many dams would be built in the next decade because there was no detailed planning as yet. But he added that experts were considering sites….

…Aviva Imhof, campaign director at the International Rivers Federation, said: "The headwaters of most of the major rivers of Asia are in Tibet, so damming them could have implications downstream."

Seen from space, the Yarlung Tsangpo River flows through the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, and is then known as the Dikrong during its passage through India's state of Arunachal Pradesh. Further downstream, the river widens and becomes the Brahmaputra. Its waters eventually empty to the Bay of Bengal. NASA

No comments: