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China set to build a new hydropower megadam in Tibet, Qinghai farmers ordered out for dam building

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(TibetanReview.net, May31’23) – A Chinese state-owned power generator plans to develop a 2.6 gigawatt (GW) hydropower station in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) while in Qinghai, another occupied Tibetan region, authorities have ordered farmers to vacate their land for the construction of a hydropower dam, reported Reuters and the Tibetan service of rfa.org May 30.

The TAR project, to be built by Huaneng Group 600011.SS, is massive enough to cost about 58.4 billion yuan ($8.45 billion) to be built over a period of some 11 years, excluding preparatory work.

The report did not name the project, or where it will be built. It only said the plan was approved by China’s state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, in Apr 2023, and was awaiting approval via a general meeting of shareholders, citing a filing with the Shanghai Stock Exchange on May 30 by a subsidiary of the group.

The filing was made by Huaneng Lancang River Hydropower Inc (600025: Shanghai), reported sxcoal.com May 31.

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If the project is to be built over the Mekong-Lancang River, it is bound to be highly controversial.

Seven megadams have already been built, and over 20 more are under construction or being planned over the Mekong/Lancang River in Yunnan (part of which is Tibetan), TAR and Qinghai. The scheme will drastically change the river’s natural flood-drought cycle and block the transport of sediment, affecting ecosystems and the livelihoods of millions living downstream countries, notes the International Rivers Group on its archive.internationalrivers.org/campaigns website.

The river originates from northwest Zaduo County, Qinghai Province, zigzags through the Tibetan Plateau and then runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, before flowing into the South China Sea. Impacts to water levels and fisheries have already been recorded along the Thai-Lao border, the group said.

Beijing has led an ambitious drive to increase the share of renewables in the PRC’s energy mix, and has said it aims for them to account for more than 50% of its electricity generation capacity by 2025, noted the Reuters report.

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Meanwhile, in Rebgong (Chinese: Tongren) County in Malho (Huangnan) prefecture of Qinghai Province, authorities have ordered Tibetan farmers to vacate their farmland to make way for the construction of a hydropower dam, depriving them of their only means of sustenance and livelihood.

Authorities in Lingya village, about an hour’s drive from Rebgong, issued the order on May 23, requiring residents of seven villages in there to move out so the Chinese government could begin the first phase of the project’s construction, 10 days after the date of the notice, rfa.org cited a Tibetan from Rebgong, now living in exile as saying.

The report cited another Tibetan living in exile as saying authorities had begun confiscating land without any discussion of compensation for the affected residents. However, the notice ordering the Tibetans to move out was cited as saying those failing to abide by it “will not be compensated.”

The report did not cite the name and other details about the hydropower dam project.

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