A child takes part in an anti-mining protests in Dharamsala, phayul file photo
Dharamsala, August 18 - The local Tibetan residents from Gyama township in Meldro Gongkar County have petitioned the local government to put an immediate halt to a mining project in the area, according to the exile Tibetan government’s website.
However, the local government has not responded yet to the petition and “deliberately overlooked the genuine concerns of the local residents,” the The whole region is under heavy military surveillance, with imposition of severe restrictions on communication to outside world and people visiting the region.
Earlier on June 20 this year, residents protested against a Chinese mining company that was carrying out a water-diversion project in the upper Gyama region. The ensuing scuffle between angry Tibetans and miners left 3 Tibetans wounded. The large-scale facility was being built to channelize water to the mining site. Huge pipes were laid across agricultural lands, which have been forcefully taken away from farmers without compensations. Toxic wastes dumped into Gyama Shingchu river resulted in the death of a large number of cattle last year.
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.
The Chinese miners had to leave the site after a meeting between Tibetan residents and officials from the Tibetan Autonomous Region on June 21 brought some settlement. However, the mining soon resumed and the authorities have threatened Tibetans of being charged with ‘separatism’ if they stood in their way.
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.