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Qinghai-Tibet Railway Ecosystem Protected
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A senior environment official said yesterday in Beijing that authorities have taken effective environmental protection measures along the right-of-way of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, which is currently under construction, to protect local wildlife and natural surroundings.

Long-term monitoring of the local environment and the activities of wildlife needs to be carried out to make timely improvements, said Zhu Xingxiang, vice-director of the supervision and management department under the State Environmental Protection Administration.

The Qinghai-Tibet railway, which will be the highest railway in the world, will be the first rail link between Tibet and rest of the country. Construction started in 2001 and is scheduled to be completed by 2007.

More than 1,100 kilometers long, the railway will link Golmud, in Northwest China's Qinghai Province, with Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Possible environmental impacts of the construction work have long been a top concern among authorities, because the local ecosystem is considered to be particularly fragile because the air is rarefied and the plateau is cold and dry and subject to strong winds. Earlier this month, the State Environmental Protection Administration sent an investigation team, consisting of environment and biology experts and officials from involved departments, to see if the environment is being effectively protected along the railway's right-of-way.

Construction contractors have attached great importance to the protection of perpetually frozen earth, and the rivers and wildlife along the railway, according to Zhu.

Bridges or paths have been made along the completed sections of the railway to allow passage of animals.

During construction, areas where the land has been disturbed are closely monitored and measures are taken to restore vegetation, he said.

All the daily waste generated by construction workers is collected and treated, and the investigation teams found no signs of littering, Zhu said.

(China Daily August 29, 2003)

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