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Farmers in Sandstorm Sources to Be Relocated
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A total of 80,000 people in north China's Hebei Province are to be relocated from 2004 to 2010 in order to fasten the progress of the Beijing-Tianjin sand-and-wind-breaking project, China Environment News reported on Tuesday.

Hebei Province is a barrier to protect Beijing and Tianjin from sandstorm attacks, but at the same time, its northern part is also a source of the wind and sands affecting the two municipalities. Three large sandy regions lie in the province's Zhangjiakou and Chengde areas, from where 50,000 and 30,000 residents will be relocated respectively in the coming six years.


By 1999, 1.8 million hectares of  land in the northern part of Hebei had become a major source of sandstorms affecting Beijing and Tianjin. In 2000, the state launched a project to rehabilitate the environmentally degraded areas that are contributing to the problem.


Practice in the past four years has not only improved the eco-environment in the project-related areas, but has also helped 145,000 impoverished people shake off poverty. Farmers' per capita annual income in those areas has increased from 1,456 yuan (US$176) before launching the project to 1,739 yuan (US$210) at present. With impetus from the project, Hebei Province has developed ecology-oriented industries, such as "green" food, with great resolution, in a bid to readjust the local industrial structure and promote characteristic ecological economy.


The massive ecological construction has also promoted eco-tourism featuring many prairie scenic spots in the province.


Ecology-concerned relocation is to relocate population living in environment-seriously-degraded districts, where the basic requirements for subsistence and development of human beings are deficient. Dwellers living in every region where the eco-environment is deteriorated by human activities and could be rehabilitated easily after people’s removal, and the cost of relocation is lower than that of ecological construction on the spot, are subject to ecology-concerned relocation.


Most of relocated farmers in Hebei are to be resettled in nearby areas. While smaller villages are removing to bigger ones and natural settlements to administrative villages, those in mountainous areas will find homes in places outside the mountains.


(China.org.cn by Zhang Tingting, August 26, 2004)
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