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China to relocate Tibetan nomads

October 9, 2007

October 2, 2007, (BBC) -- China is ordering 100,000 nomadic Tibetans 
to move from grasslands into towns and villages in a bid to protect 
the environment, state media said.

The Tibetans are being relocated to protect the source area of key 
Chinese rivers in north-west China's Qinghai province, Xinhua news 
agency reported.

The grasslands are suffering from overgrazing, desertification and 
the effects of climate change, it said.

Some 60,000 people will be moved by year-end and 40,000 more by 2010.

Housing will be provided for all those forced to move, Xinhua said, 
but the head of one Tibetan community said it was not an easy process.

Tibetan lifestyle

Qinghai province is a source for both the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, 
but experts have warned of a crisis over water supply.

Climate change is melting glaciers that feed the rivers and 
subterranean water supplies have been reduced by increased population 
and industrialisation, experts say.

The relocation programme, aimed at restoring the ecology of the 
grasslands, is China's biggest resettlement project, Xinhua said.

Those who move will be given accommodation and greenhouses in which 
to grow vegetables, Li Xiaonan, an official in charge of the project, 
told the agency.

But the BBC's James Reynolds, in Beijing, says that it appears that 
the nomads have no choice in the matter.

The ruling communist party says that everyone affected is being 
offered compensation, but that is unlikely to satisfy Tibetans, our 
correspondent says.

Many argue that China has been determined for many years to destroy 
their way of life as a people.

Environmentalists suggest that if China is really keen on protecting 
its environment it should focus its efforts on cleaning up its 
polluted rivers and reducing its carbon emissions, our correspondent 
says.

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