(TibetanReview.net, Jan 19, 2009) — All villages in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) will have safe drinking water and telephone service by 2010, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Jan 17. It did not say when all villages in the region will have electricity. It said the local Chinese government there would spend 8 billion yuan (about US $1.18 billion) to finance infrastructure projects in rural areas in 2009 and 2010. The announcement was made by Puqung, a Tibetan official who serves as a deputy with the regional commission of development and reform, on Jan 14 in his address to the regional committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The report said the money would be used to provide safe drinking water to all of the region’s 1.07 million farmers and herders from the current level of 850,000. It also said that telephone service, currently available only in 3,421 villages, accounting for 58 percent of the total, would be expanded to cover every village in the next two years. Puqung has also said that the number of homes using marsh gas as energy source would rise to 200,0000 from the current level of 150,000 homes. He did not seem to have said anything about bringing electricity to every rural home in the region.
The report said the rest of the billion yuan would go towards improving postal service and highway construction. Currently, roads connect 59 percent of villages across the region. The TAR has an official population of 2.88 million, with 85 percent of it being farmers and herders. The region also has a huge unofficial population of Chinese immigrants and migrant workers, mostly living in towns and cities.