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Tibet Moves to Avoid Growth Mistakes
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A 9.2-billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) effort to prevent and control pollution in valley areas along the Yarlung Zangbo River and its four tributaries is underway in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The autonomous region's government launched the decade-long project as a precautionary measure to prevent Tibet from repeating the mistakes that other parts of the country have made in pursuing economic development, particularly waiting to deal with pollution until after the damage to the environment has already been done.

The central government and local enterprises will shoulder the project's 9.2 billion yuan cost.

The valley area along the Yarlung Zangbo River and its tributaries the Nyangchu, Lhasa, Yarlung and Nyang rivers covers more than 300,000 square kilometers.

The project involves four prefectures and 32 counties, including Lhasa, Xigaze, Shannan and Nyingchi, all of which play important roles in Tibet's economic and social development.

Experts have already defined how much pollution the local ecosystem can bear, People's Daily reported recently.

Based on those calculations, the experts worked out an emission control plan for pollutants.

They also set emissions standards for water and atmospheric pollution and created a pollution index for each city and county.

They have also drawn up detailed plans to prevent and treat water, air, noise and solid waste pollution, and have listed key projects to pursue.

One short-term goal is that by 2010, 60 percent of the region's domestic sewage, 90 percent of its industrial sewage and 85 percent of the industrial waste gas and domestic waste in key towns is to be treated so that it meets safe emissions requirements. 

Controling emissions and guaranteeing safe drinking water are two of the project's guiding principles.

The valley in question is home to abundant mineral and biological resources as well as solar and hydro energy. Agriculture and livestock breeding are major sources of income for local people.

However, the valley has also experienced rapid urbanization in recent years, and problems associated with pollution have begun to emerge, People's Daily reported.

The project's goal is to make sure local people have safe water, safe food and clean air.

Tibet's environment has been a source of concern for many people.

The topic is listed as a priority part of the central government's environment protection efforts.

During the 10th Five-Year Plan (2000-05), the government has invested 230 million yuan (US$29 million) and set up 38 nature reserves covering 407,700 square kilometers in Tibet, Tibet Daily reported.

The government also spent 362 million yuan (US$47 million) on a project aimed at protecting forests on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, and 67 million yuan (US$8.66 million) treating industrial pollution.

(China Daily April 11, 2007)

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