Protecting ecology key to Tibetan life
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The government of the autonomous region has taken measures to cut pollution by reducing outdated cement capacity by 200,000 tons in 2013.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.”