Dharamsala, June 23 - The residents of Gyama Township near Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, are protesting against a mining company that is carrying out a water-diversion project in the upper Gyama region. The large-scale facility is being built to channelize water to the mining site. The pipes are laid across agricultural lands, which have been forcefully taken away from farmers without compensations. The mining has been going on in the upper hills of Gyama for nearly two decades. Toxic wastes dumped into Gyama Shingchu river resulted in the death of a large number of cattle last year.
Angry villagers took to streets on 20 June and clashed with Chinese miners. Scuffles between angry Tibetans and miners were followed by police crackdown leaving 3 Tibetans wounded. One of them is quite serious and had to be taken to a hospital in Lhasa, sources said.
TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) officials from Lhasa, County officials and soldiers arrived for a meeting with the residents on June 21. At the meeting, the Tibetans demanded an immediate stop to the water diversion works and the mining activities in the region. Sources say many even cried in despair. After the meeting Chinese miners left the area on the 21 June. Local residents were however seen lying down in protest before the Township administrative office yesterday and stopping all passages to the mining site.
Villagers in the valley depend on Gyama Shingchu for their drinking water supply and irrigation. However, the river has since dried up due to destruction of its source by excessive mining. Many of the natural springs in the area have also dried up deteriorating their drinking water supply, sources say.
Gyama Shen in Meldro Gongkar is the birthplace of Tibet’s great king Songtsen Gampo (617-650 AD). There are fifteen villages in the valley, two of which are nomadic.