Killing two birds with one stone is a feat Beijing has excelled in. Quelling 28 hydropower project plans, China has decided to build an “international golden tourism town” in Nyingchi prefecture in south-eastern Tibet. The town which lies on the banks of the Brahmaputra’s ‘Great Bend’, will now turn into a major tourism project, thereby preventing the river from being dammed, securing India-China relations and creating an ecology park.
The ambitious project which is earmarked to cost 400 million yuan (US$63.5 million) will not only save face with India, whom China locked horns over by plans of damming one of North India’s major water sources, but will also enable the nation to promote its green edge.
According to the Hindu who spoke to local officials, the Nyingchi tourism project, will include 22 “model villages” built over three years at the cost of 100 million yuan (US$15.8 million), where residents will provide family hotel services for tourists.
India watchers allege, that developing Chinese tourism in the area further helps China lay claim to tracts of land very close to the disputed Indian border. However, Indian officials rejected media reports which claimed the tourism project in the border prefecture would have bearing on the long-running boundary talks, pointing out that the relevant region was not part of the dispute and was a region where India did not hold any territorial claims.
The region, rich in natural resources and cultural attractions will highlight the Brahmaputra Giant Canyon, Zangbu Badong Waterfall, Baga Temple, Galang Palace Ruins and the Himalayan mountain range. Zangbu Badong Waterfall which is also nicknamed the Niagra of Tibet was proposed to be dammed since it spectacularly falls over 1,000 metres.
The controversial park is sure to aid Beijing gain its assertion over Tibet, which has been in turmoil and closed to foreigners over the past few months. Promising to maintain the ecology and sanctity of the pristine environment, the local government has said the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon would be run by a committee “responsible for environmental protection”, and would “follow an internationally-accepted practice in its management of tourism resources and minimise harm to the plateau ecology.”
The two nations are rapidly trying to secure natural water resources for the future. Droughts in both southern China as well as Northern India both rich in agriculture have become rampant and are costing both economies millions in food grain. While building an ecology park isn’t the solution, it is a resolution to prevent the damming of the Brahmaputra, what both nations desperately need however is a long term solution to our water woes, more needs to be done than covering the problem with a pretty park.