Water politics from the roof of the world

Even if Rajendra K. Pachauri had not made the Himalayan blunder on the rate of glacier melting, people who live in these mountains know it is melting.

And governments know that too, especially China, which holds political control of river sources in the Tibetan Plateau on which almost half of the world’s population depend. And these rivers, experts warn, are becoming a part of the political debate that involves the Tibetan Cause personified in the Dalai Lama.

“Chinese authorities have long had their eyes on Tibet’s water resources. They have proposed building dams for hydropower and spending billions of dollars to build a system of canals to tap water from the Himalayan snowmelt and glaciers and transport it hundreds of miles north and east to the country’s farm and industrial regions.

But how long that frozen reservoir will last is in doubt. In attempting to solve its own water crisis, China could potentially create widespread water shortages among its neighbors. The IPCC warned a year ago that the glaciers in the world’s highest mountain range could vanish within three decades. “Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the earth keeps getting warmer at the current rate,” the report said: reveals the article, China, Tibet and the strategic power of water.

During winter weekends in Bhutan, I love walking along the banks of the mighty Punatsangchu River, across which Bhutan is building its biggest hydro power projects. Unlike summer, the glaciers which feed the river are normally shy to melt, which thins the river, forming big beaches of shining stones.

But last weekend, I noticed that the beach has become thinner instead of the river. The river is not very calm, it hides in its flow downstream, the roar of a summer river.If the river acts weirdly, it would shatter the country’s economic plans to earnA general view of the Punakha Dzong, a fortress built in 17th century in Bhutan. For centuries this monastic fortress in Bhutan's Himalayas has sheltered ancient Buddhist relics and scriptures from earthquakes, fires and Tibetan invasions. Now the lamas here may have met their match -- global warming.(Photo Courtesy: Reuters)) revenue generated by selling hydro power.

Weirding and not Warming is for another post.


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