‘The Chinese are planning a series of Himalayan dams of such worrying scale that they must be halted’

Source: The post is based on the article “‘The Chinese are planning a series of Himalayan dams of such worrying scale that they must be halted’” published in The Times of India on 17th November.

Syllabus: GS 1 – Geographical features and their location changes in critical geographical features.

Relevance: About the features of the Himalayas.

News: John Keay has written about the mountain range since the 1960s. Recently, he has written a book titled ‘Himalaya: Exploring the Roof of the World’.

What are the major highlights of his book on the Himalayas?

-In Tibetan mythology, the great peaks are persons, or rather they are deities. They constitute a society of gods who commune, fight and even mate among themselves.

Himalayan mountain pilgrimage: From Nanga Parbat in the West to Mount Kailas and Tsari in Tibet, Hindus, Buddhists and even Muslims go around the sacred peaks seeking intercession, merit and guidance.

Local communities know how to coexist: The technologies locals favour are best suited to their physical circumstances, like micro hydro projects and the frozen water towers being trialled in Ladakh.

They pioneered glaciculture in the Karakorams of Gilgit-Baltistan. Under it, farmers dependent on glacier melt have learnt how to seed new glaciers by artificial insemination.

Chinese dams need to be stopped: In Pemako in SE Tibet, the Chinese are planning a series of dams which will divert the waters of the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra from Assam to northern China. These can produce three times the electrical output of Yangtse’s Three Gorges Dam.

Similar scale dams are being built on the Indus near Chilas where “an average of 300 earthquakes in a single month” is reported. However, vital to “development”, these projects have to be stopped to protect the environment.

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