Frozen soil, lack of oxygen and a fragile ecological environment are considered the three major difficulties for building the Qinghai-Tibet railway, but now they have been well surmounted, according to a senior official with the Ministry of Railways.
Sun Yongfu, vice minister of railways, told Xinhua that the ministry has earmarked about 100 million yuan (US$12 million) and mobilized the country's relevant institutes and colleges to research how to build the railway on frozen soil. Directed by their findings, workers now set up bridges on the geographically-complicated soil in order to lay a solid roadbed.
In the development of environmental protection, as much as 1.2 billion yuan (US$144.9 million) has been allocated to help the railway steer clear of nature reserve areas and migration routes of wild animals and to alleviate pollution caused by the railway construction to adjacent lakes and rivers, according to Sun.
Meanwhile, all daily garbage and waste materials along the railway are required to be collected and disposed of in a timely manner. Prohibitions have also been made against hunting wild animals and collecting rare plants, said Sun.
He said some oxygen stations have been built at the railway construction sites, aiming to supply enough oxygen to workers. In addition, about 137 hospitals and first aid centers have been set up at the construction sites with as many as 481 medical staff and 140 million yuan (US$16.91 million) worth of medical equipment to give immediate treatment to physical reactions caused by the highland.
To date, no epidemics, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), have been discovered at the Qinghai-Tibet railway construction sites.
(Xinhua News Agency July 1, 2003)