Tibetan official allays India’s concerns on rail line
Rejecting concerns in India over the newly-inaugurated 250-kilometre rail-line from Lhasa to Shigatse that runs close to the Indian border in Sikkim, a senior Tibetan official said India, Nepal and China should cooperate on “letting railways cross over borders as they do in Europe.”
Wu Yingjie, a top functionary of the Communist Party of Tibet, was speaking to a group of Indian journalists in Lhasa. Responding to a question from media, he said, “Rest assured however many railway lines China builds, it will abide by the Panchsheel principles of coexistence.”
India has twin worries over the new constructions in Tibet, which will run close to Sikkim on the western line to Shigatse, and on the eastern line to Nyngchi, close to the Arunachal border, which are due to be completed by 2016. To begin with, the high-speed trains will facilitate quicker movement of military personnel and hardware to the Chinese side compared to India’s abilities at its border. Also, the Nepal government had asked for the Shigatse line to be extended to Kathmandu to ease travel from Nepal, Mr. Wu revealed.
The rail lines are part of China’s mission to build infrastructure on a large-scale in Tibet by 2020, indenting for 1,300 km of railway tracks, 1,10,000 km of roadways and several airports, with an investment of more than $13 billion in the last two decades.
Environmentalists have pointed out that the barrelling of tunnels through mountains will lead to soil erosion and have other ecological impact as well. Tibet’s Director General of Environmental Protection Jiang Bai, however, has said the construction process goes through “strict” environmental checks. “In the past too, if we are advised against disturbing one part of a mountain, we take a detour,” he said.
India, Nepal, China must cooperate to let railways cross over borders, a la Europe