For the first time, China started transporting bottled water on Wednesday to other parts of the country by charter trains from the Himalayan rivers in Tibet, known for its rich water resources.
A train full of Tibetan bottled water left Lhasa, the provincial capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, and headed for the city of Ningbo in eastern China's Zhejiang Province.
It is the first of a regular set of cargo trains to bring bottled drinking water from Tibet to China's inland areas, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
There are also plans to run trains between Lhasa and other cities such as Beijing, Qingdao, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Lanzhou, it said. Carrying 1,890 tonnes of bottled water in 35 carriages from Tibet, the one-way train will travel 4,500 kms and reach its destination in six days.
Tibet, often called Asia's Water Tower, is rich in water resources. It produced over 400,000 tonnes of natural drinking water in 2015, but high transport costs made it difficult to reach the inland market, the report said.
The new trains will facilitate trade in areas along the railway route and help Tibet shift its resource advantages into economic ones, said Yu Heping, it quoted a local official as saying.
Identifying its fresh water resources as a new sustainable economic pillar of growth, Tibet plans to raise its annual production capacity of drinking water to five million tonnes in the next three to five years, it said. China has been building dams on rivers in Tibet including Brahmaputra to tap water and to produce electricity from the rivers raising concerns in the riparian countries like India, which fears reduced waters flows.