Dams on Gyarong Ngulchu or Dadu River

Friday, November 6, 2009

[Note: Refer to this updated post]

This is a quick post to share a couple of maps which show hydropower projects on the eastern fringes of the Tibetan Plateau. As rivers on "mainland China" are dammed and diverted beyond recognition, Chinese dam builders and hydro-engineers are looking towards the Tibetan Plateau for more business. Owing to this trend, more and more dams are being built on the rivers of the eastern parts of the Tibetan Plateau, mainly in Western Sichuan or Kham region. You may read an article on the policy implications of these dam projects.

Information on these maps have been obtained from websites of the Probe International, China Guodian Corp, Tibet Justice Center, and a number of other web based resources which served to verify or correct the main sources. Many thanks to my ghost map maker and to Kevin Li for corrections and clarifications on the facts, and for detailed information on the Tianwanhe Cascade. Chinese and non-Chinese maps of the area have been used for geographical information and the maps are only approxiamtely to scale. The positions of the hydropower projects are approximate.

This first map shows dams on the Dadu River, known to Tibetans as Gyarong Gyalmo Ngulchu (རྒྱལ་རོང་རྒྱལ་མོ་རྔུལ་ཆུ་). Shown dam projects also include those downstream of the Tibetan Plateau to help researchers who may find locating different dam names on the river confusing. For more information on these hydropower projects, see the table at the end of this post.

This second map shows on two tributaries of Gyarong Ngulchu, Wasi River and Tianwan. The Megoe Tso dam project shown on this map became controversial due to opposition from local Tibetans, who consider the lake (also known as the Yeti Lake and Megucuo) as sacred.


James said...

Good to see such a blog by Tibetans. Just go on with the work as you do so far, because always a good argument has to be supported by good knowledge and facts.

What I think is missing in your work is the number of people who are displaced by building the dams. Along the Dadu River and in Tibetan inhabitated areas the numbers for the following four big dams under construction at the moment are:

Houziyan 1689 persons
Changheba 330 persons
Huangjinping 1842 persons (The spelling Hunglinping is wrong)
Luding 4500 persons

The total is 8361 persons. 4861 persons are listed as minorities or not Han-Chinese. Virtually all of them must be Tibetans. The numbers are from a list compiled by Ganzi Prefecture authorities on May 18th 2006.

The Tibetan Plateau Blog said...

Hello James, thanks. It's great to get feedback from informed people like yourself. Your corrections will be incorporated in our (I say 'our' because there is really a lot of people like yourself who have contributed to these) maps. The number of people displaced by these projects is indeed very important but, as you know, these numbers are hard to find and rarely from independent sources. If you have any suggestions for sources and corroborating the numbers, please let me know. Thanks again, and keep commenting.

James said...

Thanks for your input too. I did visit the construction sites and reservoirs of the above four locations myself, and think the numbers of displaced persons are correct. Such numbers are understood to be changing all the time as during the years of construction babies are born and people die. That’s why the date of each such report is required.
Below are the figures from the same year 2006 list for other locations I did not visit myself. I include only locations where construction has started according to your blog, and where Tibetans could be affected. The figure for (Minorities) is already included in the total for each project.

Shuangjiangkou 7167 persons (Minorities 6888 persons)

(Inside Ganzi Prefecture) 3366 persons (Minorities 625 persons)
(Inside Ya’an Prefecture) 1504 persons (Minorities 500 persons)
Total 4870 persons (Minorities 1125 persons)

Longtoushi 4639 persons (Minorities 1546 persons)

If you study the figures above you see the share of minorities decline step by step the further down the river a dam is built. Han-Chinese obviously prefer not to live on the high plateau. Also the Shuangjiangkou dam with a height of 322 meters results in the largest number of persons displaced.

The following figures are for all the dams planed to be constructed in Western Sichuan between 2005 and 2020. Numbers of displaced persons are by prefectures:

Ganzi 23'139 persons
Aba 52'958 persons
Liangshan 135'891 persons
Ya’an 107’195 persons
Panzhihua 68’091 persons
Total until 2020: 387’274 persons

I estimate the number of Tibetans as between 80’000 to 90’000 of the total figure above. This is around 22 percent of the total of all persons displaced as a result of the dam building effort in western Sichuan alone. Tibetans in Qinghai, Gansu, Yunnan and the TAR are not included. It also shows that Tibetans are by far not the most affected ethnic group in Sichuan.

I hope this contribution gives a first overview to all interested readers on the subject of persons who have to leave their traditional home and move to a new area.

The Tibetan Plateau Blog said...

Wow, this is great. I am sure a lot of people would be interested in this. Please help confirm the reliability of this information. Can you send me (ghangkar at yahoo.com) a copy of the document or a web link to the source? If you don't have such sources, please advice how I can independently confirm the claim.

James said...

Fine, I will send you a number of interesting copies and advice on how to read them. I hope your Chinese is up to the level for the job ;)

Anonymous said...

The figures quoted by James are higher than those provided by a study completed in 2008 that based itself on figures provided by the Chengdu Survey and Design Institute. Zhongguo kezaisheng nengyuan fazhan zhanlue yanjiu congshu- shuinengjuan, China Hydropower Press 2008. It gives a.o.: Longtoushi 2810, Dagangshan 1528 Huangjinping 1305, Luding 2480. I do not know whether this represents differences in definition, in time or redesign.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add the figure given for Shuangjiangkou: 4170

The Tibetan Plateau Blog said...

Thanks. Differences in statistics is common, depending on source, method, time, etc. Yours is a more recent source and the differences in numbers is significant. Interesting. Thanks again. Please visit again and continue to share information.

James said...

Thank you very much for pointing out a different source for such numbers. Indeed the projects seem to change often, and as the size of the dam changes so does the number of people who have to move away.

Another factor is the self interest any organization may have in certain kind of numbers. The lower numbers from the book you mentioned above are from the organization interested and involved in building the dams. The higher numbers as in my contribution (dated January 7th, 2010) are from the local government. It is the local government and not the design company which has to deal with the people and possible protests if for example compensation payments are not sufficient.

In my opinion the companies building dams try more likely to underreport while local governments try to get as much compensation money as possible. What share of the money will reach the people who have to move is then a very different question. Building dams or any other big project has many beneficiaries.

The Tibetan Plateau Blog said...

Hey James, it's great that you are still around. I was wondering if you may be traveling. Your points are well taken. Cheers!

Elisabeth Buchanan said...

Tibet is said by Medicine People to be the Heart of the Planet Earth.Gaia.

The Four Corners where Hopi and Navajo live is said to be the Spirit.
These words I have heard from Elders.
The ones who rape and pillage in war are the same Manchurian Candidates who are ready and willing to do the dirty deeds.
They have no bonding to Our Earth MOTHER.
they are trained to take orders in Public Schools.

The Spirit be with them so they will understand how alive the being they are sucking on is.
The breast is meant to be a place of comfort, not violence.

On Monday I will be The Earth Mother in the earth10 minutes we have to do a play after the Toxic Tour.
The extractors will be sucking my essence ( not) as I writh and scream.
An Elder friend will embrace with Beauty and the corps will wake up.
This is THE Future
With Love Your Earth Mother.