By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 20: One of Tibet’s key rivers Yarlung Tsangpo, the headwaters of the Brahmaputra river has been blocked by a massive landslide causing a barrier-lake to form. The local Chinese emergency response bureau has said there is eminent danger that the blockage could give way to flashfloods in the lower regions including Arunchal Pradesh in India.
The landslide on Wednesday saw a cliff face fall into the river near a village in Menling County located in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The barrier lake has swelled to a depth of 40 metres (131 feet) by Thursday, sources said.
While no casualty has been reported as yet, close to 6000 locals have been evacuated and moved to higher grounds. Chinese authorities have also sent caution to lower regions including India’s Arunachal Pradesh where the river converges and is known as the Brahmaputra.
China and India signed a pact to share hydrological data for the Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers, particularly during the flood season when the monsoon is in its full swing. The Sutlej river known as Langchen Khabab in Tibetan and the Brahmaputra known as Yarlung Tsangpo originate in occupied-Tibet.
The military stand-off in Doklam in 2017, many including India, say prompted China to hold back data of flooding caused by the swollen Brahmaputra in July last year. The floods in India resulted in the death of least 85 people and 4 lac people have been affected with 500,000 of them rendered homeless.
The positive diplomatic overture since have brought the date sharing practices back on track. China issued India warning of a record rise in the water level of Brahmaputra earlier in August.
This is the third incident of landslides causing havoc inside occupied-Tibet in space of a fortnight. Last week, on two separate incidents, landslides caused barrier-lakes to form on the banks of the Drichu river, also known as the Yangtse in Chinese, near Chamdo city in Jomda county.