Railway Gets All Clear on Ecology

Construction of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, recently approved by the government, will not cause an "ecological disaster" in the project area, a senior engineer has said.

On the contrary, the project will play a key role in protecting the ecological environment on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Xinhua news agency quoted Ran Li, chief engineer with the No. 1 Survey and Design Institute under the Ministry of Railways, as saying.

The 1,180-kilometer railway, the first linking the Tibet Autonomous Region with the rest of country, will extend from Lhasa in Tibet to Golmud in Qinghai Province, in the northwest. It will be the longest and highest elevated railway built on highlands in the world.

Ran said the claim that the railway will cause ecological problems in Qinghai and Tibet is totally groundless.

Ran said that to find ways for constructing the rail line on ground that has been frozen for a long time, his institute and the Northwest Branch of the Science Research Institute, affiliated with the ministry, have been conducting a series of experiments and research on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau since the 1960s.

The experts have amassed a lot of experience for building the Qinghai-Tibet railway and found ways to protect the local eco-system during the construction, Ran said.

According to Ran, they conducted experiments in areas with an elevation of 4,750 meters, building roadbed, bridges, houses and water supply and drainage systems. A "green belt" will be built along the planned railway, Ran said.

More than 960 kilometers, or over four-fifths of the railway, will be built at an altitude of over 4,000 meters. And more than half of it will be laid on ground that has been frozen for a long period of time.

To protect animal and plant resources in the Hoh Xil, Qiangtang and other nature reserves in the area, more bridges and passages for animals will be built on the section where the railway passes through nature reserve zones, Ran added.

(Eastday.com 02/22/2001)