By Tenzin Tsering
Dharamsala, August 10 - A collaborative report by a Beijing based Tibetan writer Woeser suggested that the landslide which brought massive devastation to Drugchu county in the Tibetan province of Amdo, (Chinese: Zhuoqu County, Gansu province) appears to be a manmade disaster.
The mudslide was perceived to be triggered by heavy rain in Drugchu county, which has a population of 130,000, mostly Tibetans. There are other reasons to believe otherwise, deviating from the recognition of the disaster as a natural calamity, say other internet users on Woser’s blog.
Oiwan Lam, a Hong Kong based blogger has translated a posting on Woeser’s blog, which provided information collected by various internet users citing Chinese government reports.
The mudslide on Sunday has claimed atleast 127 lives and 1300 people are missing, according to the Chinese state run media.
Past news reports and statistics of Drugchu county reveal heavy damming of the valley, mining and deforestation.
“There are 47 hydroelectric power plant construction projects in the region and so far 15 hydroelectric power plants have been constructed, 14 more are under construction,” writes one, adding that local Tibetans believe the extensive construction projects have upset the fragile ecosystem of the region.
“Zhouqu has been ruined for long due to mining activities for many years. All the trees in the hillsides had been logged and you could see dark mud exposed in the air. The river has been polluted with gold rush and it is all muddy. The location of the town is downhill at the village. It is surrounded by cliffs and dangerous slope. Some buildings are constructed in the slopes. I visited the site many years ago, it is not suitable for human habitation. Actually, the town was also hit by the May 12 earthquake in 2008,” another blogger wrote.
Findings of a research by Lanzhou University in 2006 on the landslides along Bialong river district affirmed “deforestation, exploitative mining activities, construction of hydroelectric power plants and other development activities” as contributing to the unstable hills and threatenning the fragile environment of the region.
Another user wrote, citing a 2008 report, “Drugchu county had so far seen 60 landslides.”
Drugchu county was once called a “human paradise surrounded by rivers and forests” has been “exploited since 1958, great leap forward” or the occupation of Tibet in 1959.