"Demonstrators were calling for an end to the construction of tunnels in Dege County, the Kham region of eastern Tibet which have led to the collapse and damage of many residential buildings," sources told the Tibet Post International.
More than 1,000 People's Armed Police, a paramilitary force, swooped into Pondha town in Dege county to contain rising opposition to the project, apprehending those leading the protests.
Local residents had vehemently opposed the project when it was first launched in May last year, citing "disruption of the local environment, daily livelihood, and safety of the houses lying near the site of the tunnel". However, Ven Gyaltsen, a Tibetan monk in exile with contacts in the area told TPI News that the protests were ignored.
Seven months later, work on the tunnel stretching from Dege Tsokok village to Dege Kamthok village resulted in cracks appearing in nearby houses, some of which have collapsed.
Frustrated over the damage to their homes, about 100 Tibetans stormed the construction site and blocked work there while several other Tibetans went the Dege county office to complain, demanding that their concerns be attended to immediately.
"Then on January 7, more than 1,000 armed paramilitary forces suddenly arrived in Pondha town and detained about 20 Tibetans." the source said.
Dege is among Tibetan-populated counties in Chinese provinces that are under the close watch of the Chinese authorities following previous protests in the area. There has been opposition against Beijing's rule and calls for the return of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who has been living in exile in India since 1959.