Pro­tect­ing ecol­ogy key to Ti­betan life

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By ZHENG JINRAN, HU YONGQI in Beijing and DA QIONG in Lhasa

The Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion will make ev­ery ef­fort to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment on the plateau in a bid to pro­tect the liveli­hood of peo­ple, as well as pro­mote healthy so­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in the re­gion.

“We base our city’s de­vel­op­ment on pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment,” said Zhang Yan­qing, mayor of Lhasa, the cap­i­tal and largest city of Ti­bet, “be­cause a good en­vi­ron­ment in it­self is a pow­er­ful and at­trac­tive re­source.”

Ti­bet is re­garded as the last piece of pure land in China and a popular travel des­ti­na­tion for vis­i­tors from home and abroad.

The State Coun­cil, or Chi­nese Cab­i­net, passed a long-term pro­gram to pro­tect the ecol­ogy and en­vi­ron­ment in Ti­bet in 2009, which plans to al­lo­cate 15.8 bil­lion yuan to 10 projects for the ecol­ogy and en­vi­ron­ment from 2008 and 2030.

Un­der the guide­lines of the pro­gram, Ti­bet is tak­ing tough mea­sures to ex­pand forests and re­duce pol­lu­tion.

Ti­bet has al­lo­cated around 2.83 bil­lion yuan ($460 mil­lion) to sub­si­dize projects re­lated to grass­lands and forests in 2013 and ex­pand the green area by more than 83,000 hectares in the ma­jor river basin ar­eas in the first three quarters of the year.

The gov­ern­ment of the au­ton­o­mous re­gion has taken mea­sures to cut pol­lu­tion by re­duc­ing out­dated ce­ment ca­pac­ity by 200,000 tons in 2013. “We also have shut down more than 40 mines,” Zhang said.

“Based on the strict con­trol on min­ing, we have al­ready stopped dig­ging gold mines, be­cause the en­vi­ron­ment is more im­por­tant,” said Phuntsok, deputy di­rec­tor of the stand­ing com­mit­tee of Peo­ple’s Congress of Ngari pre­fec­ture in the western Ti­bet. “We want a healthy en­vi­ron­ment more than shiny gold.” In Novem­ber, Lhasa was named the first model city in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion by the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion since 2012, a recog­ni­tion Lhasa’s mayor said he’s proud of.

The Lhalu Wet­land Con­ser­va­tion, the largest near a city in China, is vi­tal to keep­ing Lhasa’s mild cli­mate, func­tion­ing as “a lung for the city”.

A res­i­dent near the Lhalu wet­land Ny­ima Droma, 33, said Lhasa needs to pro­tect the pre­cious wet­land so close to the city and green in­dus­tries would not pol­lute the blue sky.

In ad­di­tion to the ex­ten­sive pro­tec­tion of the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, Lhasa also has plans to reg­u­late liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties to re­duce pol­lu­tion, as well as im­prove the liveli­hood for res­i­dents.

“We will start the sec­ond phase of the refuse land­fill, and build a power plant that gen­er­ates elec­tric­ity with the garbage,” Zhang said, adding that the new land­fill is de­signed for 50 years to deal with the garbage from tourists, res­i­dents as well as fac­to­ries. In ad­di­tion, a new sewage plant is be­ing planned, he said.

“We will build a wa­ter plant that pro­cesses wa­ter from rivers in­stead of the un­der­ground wa­ter we cur­rently use,” Zhang said. “It’s an im­por­tant move to pro­tect the pre­cious un­der­ground wa­ter re­sources.”

Un­der strict en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, Ti­bet also pur­sues a healthy eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment fo­cus­ing on high-tech­nol­ogy in­dus­tries, and tra­di­tional food and medicine in­dus­tries.

The gov­ern­ment pro­motes the de­vel­op­ment of plants pro­cess­ing tra­di­tional Ti­betan medicines such as cro­cuses and honey­suckle.

“We will also take ad­van­tage of the rich wa­ter re­sources with the vast glaciers and rivers to cre­ate brands of wa­ter prod­ucts, such as bot­tled drink­ing wa­ter and cos­met­ics,” Zhang said.

“We are re­spon­si­ble for im­prov­ing the liveli­hoods of res­i­dents and pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

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