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Development

China Plans To Divert Water From Tibet.

August 01, 2006


A senior official at the Yellow River Water Conservancy Committee (YRWCC) has announced that a controversial scheme to divert water from Tibet to the parched Yellow River in Qinghai will go ahead. The director of the YRWCC, Li Guoying, said that the project was essential because the Yellow River's current flow is being exhausted by development demands in the PRCís western regions. "When the economic and social development of the northwest reaches a certain level and the potential of water-saving measures is exhausted, this project will be launched", he told a news briefing. The long-discussed plan to harness Tibetan rivers to quench water-scarce regions of the PRC has growing official momentum, with construction possibly starting as early as 2010, Liu Changming, a hydrologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Reuters. The so-called Western Route of China's South-North Water Transfer Project will join the Central and Eastern Routes, already under construction, that are intended to draw water from the much larger Yangtze River for China's dry north and for the capital, Beijing. The plan has received the general backing of China's leaders, including President Hu Jintao, a hydro-engineer who worked in western China for decades, Liu said. But it promises to be the most controversial of Beijing's efforts to yolk Tibet's "under-used" rivers to nourish national development. "This project is definitely not meant to develop Tibet", said Tashi Tsering, a Tibetan expert on the region's natural resources at the University of British Columbia in Canada. "Tibet's water availability is actually quite limited and these rivers depend on glaciers that are receding. The consequences just haven't been thought through".



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