Editorial and Op Ed Articles
We are playing with the layout of Trin-gyi-pho-nya and made some changes with more discussion on selected news items. Apart from the usual news briefs, this issue starts with more detailed coverage of news surrounding nature reserve parks initiatives, the Gormo-Lhasa railway, flood reports, and Tibetan opposition to the dam projects that have come to our attention in the last two months. In doing this work, we are thankful to all the people who monitor and share information on Tibet.
The selected news items raise many issues. At the heart of these issues, Tibet Justice Center believes, is the Tibetan people’s right to self-determination, including the right to control the use of their resources and to participate in shaping the policies that affect their lives. Currently, Tibetans have no say in the matter of projects that are undertaken on their land. Those who protest the exploitation are subject to imprisonment and torture. The government’s current development practices in Tibet have also come under criticism from Chinese civil society groups as violating various laws and its professed policies towards “ethnic minorities.”
Nature Reserve Parks
According to the Chinese government news agency Xinhua, Dr. George Schaller of the New York based Wildlife Conservation Society reported an increase in the population of several species of wildlife, including the Tibetan antelope, in Jhanthang Reserve Park of Tibetan Autonomous Region (Xinhua: July 15). “According to Dr. Schaller, the first international researcher to be granted access to the Metdog Region in Southeastern Tibet [Autonomous Region] by the Chinese government, the population of chiru [Tibetan Antelope] has risen from an estimated 3,900 in 1991 to 5,890, while that of wild donkeys has jumped from 1,224 to 2,241.” The population of Tibetan antelopes has been declining in the recent decades due to relentless poaching for its “shatoosh” wool. While the growth in the number of Tibetan Antelopes is a promising but tentative accomplishment of the Chinese “protected areas” model of conservation in Tibet, its governance policies, especially towards local Tibetans, remain questionable.
The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy based in India confirmed news reports that Tibetan nomads in Golog and Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures of Qinghai “face risk of relocation and threat to their traditional nomadic culture due to the Chinese drive to protect the environment. The government ruling of 16 April 2003 has called for a drive to protect and plant grasses on the banks of the three major rivers — Machu, Drichu and Zachu —to combat desertification and soil erosion. The same ruling has ordered limiting the livestock to protect grassland” (TCHRD press release: August 20). Earlier this year, the Chinese State Council approved a plan to establish a 152,300 square kilometer nature reserve to protect the sources of the Yellow, the Yangtze and the Mekong rivers.
In a similar environmental protection drive along the headwaters of the Yangtze River, nearly 1000 Tibetan families from Jomda, Markham and Gonjo counties in Chamdo prefecture have been moved to Kongpo prefecture (Tibet Information Network News Update: July 29). Tibetans from the Derge area of Kham (in Sichuan) have also been resettled in the same environment protection drive. The relocated people are reported to be unhappy with the move, as most of them are nomads and had to sell their livestock, on which their traditional livelihood depended. “There are also profound spiritual attachment to the ancestral land stemming from the worship of local deities linked to certain mountains and passes in most of these areas (TIN update).” In addition, their new location is reported to have poorer land for farming than the land in their home areas.
According to the London-based independent news agency, “A number of Tibetans from the area have linked the current resettlements to mining, such as in the case of the Awang nomadic area in Gonjo, from where both mining as well as the moving-out of nomad families is reported. People mention being told that the land will be used for the creation of forests, but reports from the area say that mining machinery and equipment from the large Yulong copper mine in Jomda has been transferred to and from nearby areas in Gonjo. This could indicate that some of the mining activities related to this important mine are extended into Gonjo county. It is also possible that farming areas in Gonjo will be used to supply food and winter quarters for (mostly Chinese) workers working in the Yulong mining area, which is situated at a much greater altitude where the growing of vegetables are impossible.”
“The reconstruction of ecosystems to bring back habitats long lost and to build up ecological infrastructures in heavily populated areas is an expensive trend in western countries, but it is an idea that is unlikely to be easily accepted by indigenous Tibetans, particularly since it means that they have to leave their ancestral land. Although traditional animal husbandry is known to have contributed to ecological changes in the regions in question over the past centuries, it has by no means played a role of any significance in the massive deforestation seen over the past five decades. The resettled Tibetan nomads and farmers therefore appear to be paying a drastic price for ecological devastation to which their ancestral way of life contributed only marginally. Whether these measures will actually bring a solution to current ecological problems, in particular floods in mainland China, remains to be seen” (TIN: July 29).
Gormo-Lhasa Railway Project
The controversial Gormo-Lhasa (many maps show Gormo as Golmud) Railway Project is a US$ 2.3 billion (“more than double the combined total spent on education and healthcare in the TAR in 50 years.” Source: ITSN) project that will connect Gormo in Amdo (Qinghai) to Lhasa by a 1,142 kilometer (Xinhua: July 9, 2003) long railway line. The project is the subject of heavy criticism from Tibetans and Tibetan rights groups as they argue that the “railway will provide logistical support to the military, enable greater and swifter in-migration of non-Tibetans to the area and facilitate the exploitation of mineral resources that have so far remained uneconomical” (ITSN). “This railway will greatly ease and speed this transport, opening up the heart of Tibet, much as the U.S. railway opened the American West. This increased population transfer will exacerbate the marginalisation of Tibetans in Tibet, increase sinicisation and ethnic tensions in the area, and pose a critical risk to the survival of Tibet's culture and way of life” (ITSN). A report published by the Environment and Development Desk of Tibetan Government in Exile can be accessed here.
While Tibetan rights groups and the International Tibet Support Network are trying to persuade foreign companies that are involved in the project to divest, news reports indicate substantial progress being made on the project. Project builders have identified “three major difficulties for building the project — frozen soil, lack of oxygen and a fragile environment” (People’s Daily, July 1). Reports highlight countermeasures that are being taken to overcome these challenges (People’s Daily: July 1 and 2; Xinhua: June 2, 18, and July 28; China’s Tibet: Vol. 14 series). Bridges are being built to overcome the problem of frozen soil, oxygen tanks are supplied through oxygen stations to the workers and various initiatives are being undertaken to safeguard the fragile ecosystem affected by the project. “Quality checks” conducted on completed sections of the railway “revealed that over 90 percent of the completed rail lines were ‘excellent,’ while the rest were ‘up to the standard’” (People’s Daily: July 2).
News of construction work includes an 11.5 km rail line in Damshung (Dangxiong) county that is reported to have begun on June 2, 2003 (Xinhua: June 3). A series of tunnels at Yangbajain and bridges over the Lhasa River and Qumur Bridge are reported to be “still under construction” (Xinhua: June 29). The construction for the longest railway bridge in the TAR and the second-longest on the Qinghai-Tibet railway, a 3.2 km long bridge has commenced (Xinhua: June 27). Located in Amdo county of TAR, this bridge is estimated to cost 100 million yuan (about 12.1 million US dollars) and to be completed by late September. Construction work for Dangla railway station, “situated at an altitude of 5,068 meters above sea level on the southern face of Dangla Mountain range,” has commenced (Xinhua: June 29). In a commendable achievement, if the Chinese government reports are true, a wildlife protection tunnel at the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve is successfully providing safe passageway to herds of Tibetan Antelopes in their migratory pattern (Xinhua: June 18).
The monsoon season brings prolonged and heavy rain every year to the Asian subcontinent, including many parts of the Tibetan Plateau. The rains also inevitably bring floods every year, damaging property and taking lives but at the same time, fertilizing the soil in the form of silt deposits. July and August are the wettest months of the year in the region. This year’s monsoon, according to Chinese meteorological reports, is shorter but more intense than usual. Torrential downpours have caused the Drichu (Yangtze), Zachu (Mekong), and Gyarong Ngulchu (Dadu He) to swell and cause havoc to people and animals living along its banks. Most reports of floods in Tibet are from the Kham and Amdo areas, or mainly from Sichuan and Qinghai Provinces.
“The most severe flooding since 1964” was reported along the upper reaches of Minjiang River, on the eastern most areas of the Tibetan Plateau in Kartse and Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures (People’s Daily: July 17). Flood reports from Tenpa (Danba in Chinese) county of Kartse Autonomous Prefecture indicate a “disaster” situation for the local Tibetans (www.khamaid.org; www.afxopress.com: July 13). A report dated July 4 indicates that several hundred towns and townships were affected by floods and mudslides due to weeks of continuous rain. Some of the most severely affected areas include Balong and Yuezaba villages of Yueza township and Mori village of Bawang township. Several people were reported dead and many more missing as tributaries of the Gyarong Ngulchu (Dadu He in Chinese) swelled with violent gushes forming muddy lakes and mighty rapids, destroying life and property. (Please visit www.khamaid.org for more information or if you wish to help.)
Further upstream, almost all the major counties of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Region of Qinghai Province were reported to have been affected by floods in the last two months. The most severe cases are in Nangchen (Nangqian in Chinese) and Jyekundo (Jiegu in Chinese) counties. According to reports from the ground, “[m]ost recently on 15th August, Nangqian town and County were hit by a horrendous hailstorm. 300 homes were flooded. Another 26 bridges washed away. These added to the 34 reported earlier adds up to at least 60 bridges gone. 32 houses are in danger of collapse. Although there were no fatalities, many Mu [one mu is equivalent to 67 square metres] of barley was destroyed. This is a real disaster. Much of Nangqian is poor semi-nomadic, mountainous and remote… the villagers have a few animals and small areas of land. They have neither enough yaks nor fields to sustain themselves. Most of the people live at a basic subsistence level. Loss of crops means without help, some people will starve” (www.jinpa.org).
In a letter requesting assistance, The Bridge Fund reports, “On the 29th of July 2003, an unprecedented flooding disaster that occurred in Jyekundo, a Tibetan town, directly affecting the lives of more than 387 local people from 62 families. The flooding, caused by incessant hailstorms and heavy rains, destroyed 32 homes. One person drowned and several others were seriously injured. A quick survey revealed that half of the victimized families lost their entire homes … The direct financial damage has been estimated approximately $45,000 by Snowland Service Group, a local NGO that was started with support from the Bridge Fund. The local government is also providing support, possibly for reconstruction of homes, however, funds are needed to help people rebuild their lives.” (Jermay Jamsu: August 19). (Financial contributions can be made through Jinpa, a Scotland based charity organization. Contact Ann Carswell at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website www.jinpa.org)
Local Tibetans Oppose Dam Projects
Of the numerous new dam projects that the Chinese government has announced to be built in Tibet in the last several months, two projects in particular stand out. Tibetans in Dartsedo (Kangding in Chinese) and Barkham (Ma’erkang in Chinese) counties have raised opposition to the proposed projects, which were later echoed by Chinese and Tibetan civil society groups, but to no avail.
In a written petition, Tibetans in Dartsedo have expressed their concerns to Chinese authorities about a dam project on a local sacred lake, Megoe Tso (Mugecuo in Chinese, also called Yeti Lake). Reports confirm that representations of local objections were made to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who overruled the concerns after an investigative team reported that the planned dam would boost local incomes and failed to detail social and environmental impacts of the project. Consequently, the project is likely to move forward (TIN News Digest: July 4).
Located 21 km north of Dartsedo, Megoe Lake is fed by tributaries of the Gyarong Gyalmo Ngulchu river (Dadu He in Chinese) in the scenic Gangkar mountain area on the eastern fringe of the Tibetan Plateau. According to reliable information received by Tibet Justice Center, Chinese electric companies are planning to exploit several lakes in the area. Official figures for the cost of the Megoe Tso project run up to US$300 million. The main dam, on Megoe Lake, will be 50.5 m high and 260.5m wide . (Dams more than 15 meters in height are considered “large dams” by international standards.) Construction plans include additional pumped storage power plants that will replenish water into Megoe Lake from another lake, connected through tunnels and water diversion channels. The Megoe Tso power plant reportedly will be able to supply electricity to the whole of Sichuan Province during the dry season, and generate 150 million yuan in annual revenue.
According to a survey of 40 local Tibetans (ordinary villagers, Party officials, and religious practitioners) by a Sichuan-based environmental group, all except for one village leader expressed their opposition to a similar dam project on nearby Renzhonghai Lake. These incidents are a clear indication that local Tibetans prefer to maintain their autonomy over traditional livelihood to the short-term economic gains that these projects might bring. Local concerns can be better appreciated from two angles—economic implications and cultural values. Local Tibetans living in the area are mostly pastoralists, farmers, and medicinal herb gatherers. These projects impose a direct threat to their “foodshed” due to logging and flooding of pastures and sources of medicinal herbs. Reports about the Renzhonghai Lake project also indicate that many villages will be inundated by the ensuing reservoirs. Chinese environmentalists report that the livelihoods of villagers downstream, and their surrounding ecosystems, will also be adversely affected.
In Tibet, most of the major mountains and lakes, including Gangkar mountains and its surrounding lakes, are considered sacred since pre-Buddhist times. Statements by the government of Kartse Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture indicate no signs of recognition of local people’s spiritual and cultural values in their current list of issues at stake in this dam project. The Tibetan Government-in-Exile has called for Megoe Tso, the “legendary sacred lake,” to be given to UNESCO World Heritage listing “so the world can share it.”
Weeks before the Megoe Tso controversy, Tibet Justice Center received information from reliable sources that more than 17,000 Tibetans may be forced from their homes within the next three years to make way for a series of dams on the Gyarong Gyalmo Ngulchu (Dadu He River in Chinese). These dams will be built around the Bharkham and Chuchen (Jinchuan in Chinese) counties of Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province. The main purpose of these projects is to meet demands for electricity in Chinese cities. The list below shows the affected Tibetan areas along with the number of families and people living in these areas, as reported in the information sent from Tibet. Tibet Justice Center has not verified the accuracy of these figures.
Affected area / No of families affected / No of people affected
Dzongbud / 579 / 2,798
Tawei / 288 / 1451
Tsodun / 3,040 / 7,112
Kyomkyo / 743 / 3,716
Drakbar / 485 / 2,349
Apart from forced resettlement, local issues of concern expressed in the information sent from Tibet include the “disastrous impact” of the project to many sacred, historical Buddhist shrines in the area. These relics are likely to be submerged under the ensuing reservoirs along with ancestral homes and farmlands. These concerns were submitted in writing to local authorities but the complaints were ignored. Local Communist Party officials have added to the growing Tibetan resentment by pressuring them to help fund the dam construction that threatens their very livelihoods. At a meeting in April this year, the local Party Deputy General Secretary, Mr. Chen Sai Qi urged locals to contribute to the Da-Du He Development Office, the organization spearheading dam construction, through new committees at the prefecture and county levels.
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News in Brief:
1. Chinese environmentalists oppose the Tiger Leaping Gorge Dam
(Undisclosed sources; China Power News Net: June 9, International Water Power and Dam Construction, Vol 54, No 2)
According to reliable sources, earlier this year, Liyen Yao Chen, a manager of a local bank involved in financing the Hutiaoxia, the Tiger Leaping Gorge Dam, was “dismissed” from work due to his disapproval of the project. Mr. Chen is said to have listened to the grievances of the local Chinese people who have been ordered to move before 2006 by a government issued decree, and conducted his own research into the environmental implications of the project. He has also been reportedly taking people on tours around the construction site, educating about the unaccounted for environmental costs of the project.
Hutiaoxia will be constructed in a magnificent, scenic gorge near Gyalthang (Zhongdian in Chinese) in Dechen Tibetan Autonomous Region. Environmentalists worry that the dam’s large reservoir will completely silence the roaring flow of Drichu river (Yangtze, Jinsha in Chinese), and fill up the deep, scenic gorge, which at some points is as high as 2,000 meters. In early June this year, the Yunnan Provincial Governer Xu Rongkai, vice-governor Kong Shui-chu and other provincial leaders visited the construction site and called upon builders to plan the multi-purpose project in an integrated manner, to be also used for the Yunnan Water Transfer Project. The immediate purpose of the Hutiaoxia Project is hydro-electricity generation, of which a large share is speculated to be for export, mainly to Thailand.
2. Thirteen dam-cascade project on Gyalmo Ngulchu (Salween River, Nu in Chinese) river
(Yunnan Daily: August 15. Courtesy: Kevin Li)
China’s State Development and Reform Committee held a panel meeting to review the "Hydropower Planning Report of Middle and Lower Reaches of Nu River" in Beijing from August 12-14, 2003. The meeting was attended by 140 experts, academicians and officials from various departments including the State Council's Western Development Office. The panel approved the 21,320 MW capacity 13 dam cascade proposal, which was submitted in July 2003 after two years of surveying, design and investigation. The major functions of the dams are power generation, irrigation, water supply, flood prevention and tourism. One of the 13 dams, Songta is located in Tibetan areas, on the border of Tibet Autonomous Region and Yunnan. Eight dams are located in Nujiang Ethnic Lisu Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province, and 4 others in Baoshan Prefecture. It is reported that ethnic Tibetans also live in Gongshan Dulong and Nu Autonomous county of Nujiang Prefecture.
The plan will be reviewed by State Environmental Protection Bureau, and is now being criticized by Chinese environmentalists who ran stories in newspapers, expressing serious concerns about the plans. Their main objective was to protect the last "virgin" rivers in China from dam projects, and to protect the newly-approved UNESCO World Heritage site, Three Parallel Rivers. The Yunnan section of three rivers, Jinsha (upper Yangtze), Lancang (upper Mekong) and Nu (upper Salween), were listed on both the cultural and natural lists of World Heritage sites.
3. Studies conducted to harness Yarlung Tsangpo for the world’s greatest hydro-project
(PTI: July 17; Xinhua: July 18; Tibet Justice Center reports; United Press International)
Preliminary studies were conducted at the Yarlung Tsangpo’s “bend” (the easternmost point of the river in Tibet) for the proposed construction site of the world’s most powerful dam between late June to early July this year. China Water Conservancy and Hydropower Planning and Designing Institute plans to conduct another round of feasibility studies in October this year. However, at a press conference in Lhasa on August 25, 2003, TAR Chairman Xiang Ba Ping Cuo denied the existence of plans for any large dam on Tsangpo.
The Yarlung Tsangpo River is the largest river in Tibet and the highest river in the world. The river flows eastward in the southern part of Tibet for over 2,000 kilometers and then “bending” south to enter into India (as the Brahmaputra) and then into Bangladesh. The planned dam will generate twice the electricity produced by the Three Gorges Dam, currently the world’s largest dam. The waters of the Tsangpo will then be diverted thousands of kilometers across the Tibetan Plateau to northwestern parts of China, into the provinces of Xinjiang and Gansu. Past proposals also included the use of “peaceful nuclear explosions” to blast a tunnel more than 16 kilometers in the gorge area. The Yarlung Tsangpo gorge is eight times as steep and three times as large as the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The river descends over 3,000 meters in approximately 200 km and constitutes one of the greatest hydropower potentials anywhere in the world. The gorge area is sacred to Tibetans, believed to be the home to the Goddess Dorjee Pagmo (Vajra Yogini).
4. Tibet’s oil and natural gas reserves
(Tibet Information Network News Digest: July 4; Xinhua: July 9)
According to Tibet Information Network, “The Dow Jones Business News reports that hydrocarbon reserves totaling 13 billion metric tons of oil and gas have been discovered in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Recent geological surveys conducted by the Chengdu Mineral Resources Research Institute, based in Sichuan Province, show there are seven oil and gas bearing features in Jhangthang region, which lies 200 kilometers north of Lhasa. An official said that of the total reserves, 3.8 billion tons are crude oil and the rest is natural gas. China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, or Sinopec, is expected to start seismic surveys in the region in October.” Tibet’s other major oil and gas site is the Tsaidam Basin in the northern Amdo region, now incorporated into Qinghai Province of China. Xinhua reports that Qinghai Oilfield has verified 250.4 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 10% of forecasted total, in the Tsaidam Basin.
5. Chinese graduates to Go West!
(CNN: June 13; www.china.org: July 17; undisclosed sources).
As a part of China’s Western Development Campaign, the government is encouraging its graduates “to provide intellectual support for the western regions.” Incentives such as free accommodation and daily living subsidies are provided to graduates to join “xijin,” the campaign to develop the west. Several government ministries and large universities, as well as the Communist Youth League of China are actively involved in the campaign. The World Bank, which supports China’s Western Development Campaign, could also be involved in this campaign to send Chinese graduates into occupied Tibet, Xingjiang and other parts of western China.
Sources also report about the arrival of 150 Chinese tour guides in Lhasa early this summer. Trained in Beijing, these guides are paid 4,000-6,000 yuan, depending on experience and skills, directly by the Chinese government. The amount is more than double the money made by Tibetan tour guides. Owing to the arrival of additional Chinese tour guides, many Tibetan tour guides, especially those educated in India or those that do not speak the Chinese language, were “dismissed” from work.
6. Tibetan Government-in-exile releases white paper on Tibet’s environment
(Available at: http://www.tibet.net/publication/enviro/whitepaper.doc)
The Environment and Development Desk of the Tibetan Government-in-exile released its whitepaper on Tibet’s environment on July 14, 2003. The Tibetan whitepaper came as a response to the Chinese white paper that was released earlier this year, on the 44th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day, by the information office of China’s State Council.
The Tibetan white paper draws attention to the existence of two distinct economies in Tibet today. “One is centered on the urban and resource extraction enclaves that are heavily subsidized, capital intensive, and dominated by a non-Tibetan populace. The other is based upon the predominantly ethnic Tibetan rural economy which is starved of capital and State support, still subsistence-based in the 21st century, and deprived of the social services concentrated in urban areas” (Page 8). Questioning the economic, social and environmental costs of China’s centrally controlled, top-down imposed large-scale projects in Tibet, the Tibetan white paper attempts to suggest “local empowerment” as an alternative (Page 14). The white paper goes on to articulate Tibetan preference for “projects that are local, specifically targeted, emphasise flexible decentralized service delivery, giver preference to human services rather than large scale infrastructure projects, and are small rather than unwieldy” (p. 31).
7. Canadian company to explore gold mines in Amdo
(Xinhua: July 22; Inter-Citic Press Release: July 30)
Inter-Citic Mineral Technologies Inc., a Canada based company has signed agreements with the Bureau of Geology & Mineral Exploration & Development of Qinghai Province to explore Dachang gold mines in Chumarleb (Dachang in Chinese) county, now incorporated under Qinghai Province’s Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Qumarleb is situated on the headwaters of Drichu (Yangtze) River, an area supposedly within a giant nature reserve park (See, item 11 of the last Trin-gyi-pho-nya: http://www.tibet.ca/wtnarchive/2003/6/13_5.html)
According to Xinhua, the exploration of Chumarleb gold deposits in the past has been blocked by lack of “fund, high risks in exploration and the requirements of environmental protection.” Inter-Citic reports that “The Dachang gold project has been extensively prospected by the Qinghai Geological Survey Institute, including geochemical sampling, reconnaissance geological mapping and extensive trenching and diamond drilling. The total project area is approximately 240 km2 and to date the Institute has delineated multiple gold bearing zones along strike for approximately 5 km within a 20 km2 area on one of seven highly prospective areas.”
8. UNESCO calls for the protection of All Traditional Buildings in Lhasa
(Geneva Tibet Bureau: August 14)
“A Committee monitoring the implementation of the UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage has urged the Chinese authorities to review its urban development plan for Lhasa, the Tibetan capital. The decision was taken during the 27th session of the UNESCO’s world Heritage Committee held in Paris from 30 June to 5 July this year. According to that decision, the Committee made a series of recommendations to the Chinese authorities ‘to mitigate the negative impact on the World Heritage value of this property caused by development pressures’ and called for a national policy to protect all remaining historic traditional buildings in Lhasa.”
9. Renzonghai dam project halted temporarily
(Courtesy: Kevin Li)
After a story about the Renzonghai dam project was covered in the China Central Television, Mr. Zhang Xue-zhong, Sichuan’s Party Secretary and Mr. Zhang Zhong-wei, the Sichuan Governor, took special interest in the project and ordered the Sichuan Forestry Office and Construction Office to conduct investigations, which led to the cessation of all construction work for the time being.
Renzonghai lake is one of the many lakes like the Yeti Lake (Megoe Tso) situated in the sacred Gangkar mountain area near Dartsedo (Kangding in Chinese). Like the Megoe Tso dam project, the Renzonghai project involves two pumping storage power plants that will be built at the downstream end of Renzonghai and Bawanghai Lakes. In order to manipulate the water level for electricity generation, plans are to connect the two lakes through tunnels to divert water back upstream. Chinese environmental groups report that local Tibetans who will be affected by the project are opposed to the project. Tianwan River Hydropower Development Co., the main owner of the project, was earlier reported to have started construction work, ignoring laws and by-passing a number of government departments.
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