(Montreal, 16 April 2010) – The Canada Tibet Committee (CTC) is calling for a moratorium on all further dam construction in Tibet and seismically active regions of China until five conditions are met.
The CTC called for independent experts to ascertain the feasibility and safety of future construction; that an exhaustive review of building codes and standards is undertaken; on-going monitoring of related infrastructure is in place to mitigate against future damage; independent environmental assessments are completed; and that the free, prior and informed consent of affected residents is attained.
The CTC issued its call in the wake of Wednesday’s 6.9 magnitude earthquake which has left more than 790 people reported dead, 11,000 injured, and put into question the stability of a dam in the region which cracked in the earthquake.
“Wednesday’s earthquake in Tibet is another tragic wake up call for the Chinese government, as it pursues its policy of unfettered construction of dams in Tibet and the surrounding areas,” said CTC executive director Dermod Travis. “While this tragedy was not preventable, the loss of life and related damage may have been reduced through ongoing seismicity monitoring and retrofitting of public and private infrastructure.”
According to the Tibetan Plateau Blog, China has plans to build at least 81 large dams on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Salween rivers in Qinghai Province and Tibetan Autonomous Region, eleven more hydropower projects are under active consideration in the same area, and the 302-meter-high Tongjia Dam is being considered as the starting point of the Western route of the South North Water Transfer scheme in Yushu County.
“China’s infrastructure of dams in seismic areas continues to live on borrowed time,” said Travis. “Chinese leaders must put in place water management and hydro policies that do not rely – in part – on a hope and a prayer.”
The Canada Tibet Committee is an independent non-governmental organization of Tibetans and non-Tibetans living in Canada, who are concerned about the continuing human rights violations and lack of democratic freedom in Tibet.
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