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Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 01:48 GMT 02:48 UK
China accused of ruining Tibet
Lhasa
Tibet's capital, Lhasa, is said to be affected by pollution
The Tibetan government-in-exile led by the Dalai Lama has accused China of causing widespread environmental damage in Tibet.

It warns that the damage could have an impact on the entire region.

In a 160 page report prepared for a United Nations commission, the exiled administration says uncontrolled mining and logging have caused extinction of wildlife, soil erosion and flooding.

"Given the high altitude and the extreme climatic conditions of Tibet, the damage caused to the environment and the fragile mountain ecosystem is becoming irreversible," it says.

The document also stresses the dangers inherent in China's policy of using Tibet as a "storehouse" for nuclear weapons and a "dumping site" for radioactive waste.

"Water...once pristine in Tibet is now severely polluted by chemical, nuclear and industrial waste," said the report, which is based on eyewitness accounts and Chinese publications.

It warns that water pollution from radioactive material is affecting rivers flowing down from the Himalayas into Bangladesh, Burma, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Plans to build dams

The report quotes articles published by the Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, about plans to dam part of the Yarlung Tsangpao River to produce exportable electricity.

It says there were plans to divert part of the river through the use of nuclear explosions.

It says China also stores nuclear missiles underground near Tibet's capital, Lhasa, and tests anti-missile laser weapons.

The report alleges that 46% of Tibet's forests have been chopped down since 1950, and that about 42 million tonnes of waste were poured into the Lhasa river in 1996.

It calls for international pressure to be exerted on China to clean up its environmental record in Tibet.

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