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100,000 Tibetan nomads ordered to settle in towns

Now get into town and get a real job!
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 2, 2007
China is ordering 100,000 ethnic Tibetans to give up their traditional nomadic habits and settle in towns because their way of life is threatening the environment, state press reported Tuesday.

Overgrazing from the Tibetan herders' livestock and the growing number of people living on the grasslands of China's far northwest Qinghai province are endangering the source of the nation's great rivers, Xinhua news agency said.

By the end of this year, 60,000 Tibetans will have been moved into new towns in Qinghai, with the number to grow to 100,000 by 2010, Xinhua reported, citing a government document and local environment officials.

While Xinhua highlighted compensation packages of up to 8,000 yuan (1,060 dollars) a year for families, it acknowledged that not all Tibetans were happy with having to give up the lifestyles their families have known for centuries.

"To move the herdsmen from pasture lands they have inhabited for generations is not easy," Deni, the head of a Tibetan community in Qinghai's Darlag County, was quoted as saying.

"But due to erosion and desertification, more and more people are realising the benefits of resettling... the government has done a lot to persuade those who are truly reluctant to move."

Qinghai province is one of the initial sources for China's two biggest rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow.

Reports from Chinese scientists and international environmental groups such as Greenpeace have warned in recent years that the water sources in Qinghai for China's rivers are in crisis.

Glaciers in the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau that feed the rivers are melting at an alarming rate due to global warming, while underground water supplies are falling partly due to the region's increasing population and industrialisation.

While the Tibetans are being moved into towns, the Xinhua report did not mention Chinese government efforts to create huge industrial towns along the Yellow River, which environmentalists have warned are also a major threat.

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China warns foreign polluters
Beijing (AFP) Sept 18, 2007
China warned it will impose equally harsh penalties on domestic and foreign companies after finding two overseas firms violating environmental rules in a random inspection, state media said Tuesday.

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