By Tenzin Dharpo
Screengrab from China's state controlled CCTV
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 17: The massive landslide on the banks of the Drichu river (ch. Yangtse) near Chamdo city in Jomda county last week in occupied Tibet’s Sichuan Province is linked with heavy mining and construction projects including dams in the region, exile based rights group said on Monday.
On the morning of October 11, a massive mountain face slided into the banks of the river Drichu near the intersection of Bhatang, Palyul and Derong counties in the Kham region blocking the river and creating a barrier-lake that flooded villages in the Po township.
Over 13,600 people from the affected areas and about 11,000 from Tibetan areas in neighbouring Sichuan Province that lay within 300 kilometres (186 miles) downstream regions from the point of the blockage, have reportedly been evacuated and moved to safer grounds.
Flooded Tibetan villages in Jomda county in occupied Tibet's Kham region on Oct. 12, 2018. Photo- China Plus
While the initial blockage in the river have considerably eased, China’s Ministry of Emergency Management on Oct 13 said that another landslide is imminent with a 300-metre-long crack spotted on the surface of the mountain near the site of the landslide that occurred last week.
Rights group Free Tibet has said Chinese mining, development and dam construction projects in the area have been rampant in the region and that, “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 has been an essential component in a series of Chinese large-scale hydro-dam development projects at the Tibetan Plateau’s southeast corner. Aimed at meeting the increasing electricity demands of distant Chinese cities, the hydro-dam constructions are not there to benefit the local Tibetan population,” the group said in a report published October 15.
Independent research by Tibet Justice Center in their 2004 paper say that the large-scale projects planned decades ago saw as many as 17,000 Tibetans in the region relocate to make way for the so-called development projects that are in operation today.
China’s reckless mining operations and construction projects on the Tibetan plateau over the last few decades, many environmental experts say, have done irreversible damage to the fragile eco-system that is responsible for feeding fresh water to a major part of Asia.