By Tenzin Monlam
CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay speaking at Sydney Opera House on August 5, 2017. Photo- Tibet.net
DHARAMSHALA, August 8: Urging the Chinese government to stop its ‘flawed environmental and developmental policies’, the President of Central Tibetan Administration Dr. Lobsang Sangay said that actions such as mining and building of dams would contribute to climate change across Asia and the world.
“We are not against Chinese developmental projects in Tibet per se, but we propose that the real beneficiaries of any development must be Tibetans in Tibet. Any projects that China undertakes must be environmentally sustainable, culturally sensitive and economically beneficial to local Tibetans,” President Sangay wrote in its opinion column for the Guardian.
Currently on tour of Australia, Sikyong Sangay acknowledged Beijing’s move to declare more national parks and nature reserves across Tibet as a welcoming gesture. However, he also reminded that China must take into consideration the ‘fragility and delicate nature’ of the Tibetan plateau and control the factors contributing to environmental issues such as rapid urbanization, transfer of Chinese population into Tibet, unchecked mining and construction of dams.
“In light of such robust projects, Tibetans are not only deprived of their traditional way of living, but are made peripheral beneficiaries of the projects,” he said, “The real beneficiaries are the Chinese officials, companies and the employers benefitting from the economic opportunities.”
He also warned of ‘larger environmental consequences’ due to China’s strategic and economic imperatives in Tibet. Citing examples of recent natural disasters in Tibet such as glacial avalanche in Aru in the Ngari region, mud floods and landslides in Amdo, and various cases of flood in Kham region, he said that they were effects of climate change.
Dubbing 2016 as the ‘Year of Natural Disasters’, the 48-year-old President said, “More cases of natural disasters are imminent. The Chinese government must consider these impending threats and accordingly orient its urban development project towards mitigating the increasing threats posed by climate change.”
The Tibet Plateau also known as the third pole is the source of major rivers of Asia catering to over a billion people of the continent including over 400-500 million Chinese. According to NASA, it predicts that 60% of the 47, 000 glaciers in Tibet providing fresh water to the major rivers will melt in the next 40 years.