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300,000 farmers, nomads relocated as nearly half of TAR placed under ‘strictest ecological protection’

(TibetanReview.net, Jan24’21) – China has placed nearly half of the land area of what it calls Tibet Autonomous Region under the strictest ecological supervision, rendering it off-limits for Tibetans who had for centuries cultivated their land and pastured their herds of animals there. The announcement of the ecological protection area was made at the annual meeting of the regional People’s Congress, which kicked off on Jan 20, reported China’s official global.chinadaily.com.cn Jan 23.

It was not clear whether the government work report referred to the number of people displaced from their agricultural and nomadic grasslands. Previous reports have said hundreds of thousands of Tibetans had been resettled in the region in new towns and villages, many of them close to the border with India as a part of territorial security measures.

It was earlier reported by China’s online Tibet news service eng.tibet.cn Jan 12, “Since 2015, Tibet has relocated nearly 300,000 farmers and herders from uninhabitable areas, creating better lives for them all.”

The report added that 965 relocation sites had been built to resettle them.

The ecological protection area, which covers more than 539,000 square kilometres, makes up 45 percent of the region’s area, the global.chinadaily.com.cn report cited Qi Zhala, chairman of the regional government, as saying.

Presenting the government work report, Qi Zhala has said five cities and prefectures and three counties had been designated as national-level ecologically civilized model cities and counties.

The report cited Mao Shiping, an official from Nagchu’s forestry and grassland bureau, as saying the city government had been upgrading infrastructure and management facilities in Changthang National Nature Reserve.

The reported cited the more than 298,000 sq km Changthang National Nature Reserve as China’s biggest. Mao has said more than 20,000 rural residents in Nagchu undertook various environment protection activities subsidized by the government.

The lucky ones among the nomads and farmers who have lost their land and centuries-old ways of life have got part-time ecological protection and other types of menials jobs. For example, the report cited Kunsang Darje, a railway maintenance worker in Nagchu, as saying that apart from maintaining the railway and highway, he also collected trash along the section with his colleagues.

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