Tibet: Atsok Gon Dechen Choekhorling Monastery to be relocated for a hydrodam

The Buddhist Channel, 16 April 2024

Dragkar County, Tibet (China) -- Chinese authorities have initiated the relocation of a 19th-century Buddhist monastery in Tibet as part of preparations for the completion of the world's tallest 3D-printed hydropower dam, according to a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report.

The Atsok Gon Dechen Choekhorling Monastery in Dragkar County is being relocated following a directive from the Department of National Heritage in 2023, as reported by Radio Free Asia (RFA) on April 12.

The heritage department deemed the artifacts and murals within the monastery to be of no significant value or importance, despite a two-year campaign by the monks to halt the relocation order.

Local sources cited by RFA reported that Chinese authorities have informed residents that they will cover the expenses for dismantling and reconstructing the monastery, as well as conducting ceremonies and rituals at the new site.

However, while authorities have announced plans to relocate monks and nearby villagers to Khokar Naglo near Palkha township, no alternative housing has been provided for the monks, according to an unnamed source quoted by RFA.

Established in 1889 and named after its founder Atsok Choktrul Konchog Choedaris, the monastery is located in Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai, China, housing more than 160 monks.

The relocation order, issued by China's National Development and Reform Commission, affects approximately 15,555 individuals, predominantly ethnic Tibetans, residing in 24 towns and villages across Dragkar, Kawasumdo, and Mangra counties.

Situated in Tsolho, or Hainan in Chinese, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture within the historic Amdo region of Tibet, the monastery is expected to be submerged upon the completion of the world's tallest 3D-printed Yangqu hydropower dam.

Expansion work on the Yangqu hydropower station, located on the Yellow River in Qinghai province, commenced in 2022 and is slated for completion by the year's end.

Once operational, the power plant is projected to generate approximately 5 billion kilowatts of power annually for Henan province. It constitutes an expansion of the Yangqu Dam, initially constructed in 2010 and operational as a 1,200-megawatt hydropower station since 2016.

The first segment of the dam, surpassing 150 meters in height, is scheduled for operational readiness this year, with the entire project expected to be operational by 2025, according to RFA.

Tibetans have criticized the dam project as emblematic of Beijing's disregard for their cultural, religious, and environmental concerns, viewing the affected area as sacred and enriched by over a century of prayers and spiritual practice.

Reportedly, many of the monastery's murals and surrounding stupas are slated for destruction due to logistical constraints preventing their relocation.

Video footage depicting a relocation ceremony held earlier this month outside Atsok Monastery revealed Chinese authorities addressing residents from a stage flanked by trucks and cranes.

Residents were observed praying and prostrating themselves on roads and fields adjacent to the monastery, bidding farewell to a site of generational devotion, according to RFA sources.

Officials cautioned the monastery's leadership and residents against causing disturbances, with warnings of potential repercussions for non-compliance, as relayed by an unnamed source.

Tibetans have frequently accused Chinese entities of land seizures and disruptions to their daily lives, sometimes resulting in violent confrontations that are swiftly suppressed.
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