Dharamshala: - Our ancestors viewed the earth as rich and bountiful, which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we now know is the case only if we care for it.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, 5 June 1986.
Tibetans have long protected and worshipped their land and its many gifts as a part of their religion and culture but after the Chinese invasion, the ecological balance of the rich Tibetan plateau – that is already in a fragile state – is progressively headed towards a state of ruin.
After plundering Tibetan natural resources and mineral wealth for decades now, it has recently been announced that Sinopec Southern Exploration Company has signed an agreement with the Oil and Gas Resources Research Centre of Geological Survey Bureau of Ministry of Land Resources to conduct a joint exploration of oil and gas resources in the Lhunphula Basin in central Tibet.
The Environmental and Development Desk of the Central Tibetan Administration has expressed concerns regarding the issue and has, over the years stood against any form of destructive exploitation of the Tibetan lands.
Since their invasion in 1959, China has been steadily violating Tibet's mineral reserves and under the facade of urbanisation of what they claim to be an under-developed region. Owing to the sustained mining and industrial activities by the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources in what used to be a region with the main occupation of subsistence agriculture,
Tibet has gone from being known as 'The Roof of the World' and the 'Water Tower of Asia' to being ranked lowest among China's 31 provinces on the Human Development Index according to the statistics UN Development Programme. And it's no wonder how Tibet got there.
Ironically, the word Tibet in Chinese, Xizang, means "Western Treasure House" which the Chinese now refer to as the "Treasure Bowl Awaiting Development". Being spectators to such an alarming disrespect and abuse of the lands that they consider holy, the everyday Tibetan life is not only immensely painful but steadily disappointing and unfortunately continues to look bleaker each day.
In the Position Statement of The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), it is stated that the decisions taken over the evaluation, designation, management and modifications of protected areas should also be based on the principles of sustainable development and take into account the opinions of and consequences for local communities, including indigenous peoples, and the regions involved. However, the Tibetan population remains unknowing of their rights by the virtue of relentless Chinese suppression.
Hundreds and thousands of Tibetans have sacrificed their lives for their homes, their land, the mountains and valleys their worship and consider a blessing from their deities and yet, these are the very lands being violated mercilessly.