TibetanReview.net, Jan 23, 2008
The Lhasa-Xigaze Section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway’s extension line is expected to start construction this year, said China’s online Tibet news service en.tibet.cn (Title News) Jan 18. China’s official Xinhua news agency Jan 19 cited TAR government Chairman Qiangba Puncog as saying it will be one of the region’s ten key construction projects this year involving an outlay of 28 billion yuan ($3.7 billion).
“Experts are still working on the designs and environmental assessments of the extension line and government officials have started calculating compensations to those who will lose their land and properties to the railway,” Qiangba was quoted as saying. The 254-km Lhasa and Xigaze will be the first feeder line for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, will cost 11 billion yuan and be completed in 2010, the report said.
Xigaxe is located 280 km southwest of Lhasa and borders Nepal, Bhutan and India.
Earlier, responding positively to Nepal’s repeated requests, China has said it wanted to establish a rail-link to Kathmandu and offered to supply petroleum products to the fuel-starved country, thereby reducing its dependence on India. “The China -Tibet railway link will not end in Lhasa, as we have plans to expand it up to the Nepalese border,” a Reuters report carried by Economic Times (India) Jan 13 quoted the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Mr Cheng Xia Ling as saying. Cheng has said he was aware of the difficulty of supplying oil to Nepal from China, noting, “It is not an easy task to supply petrol from China as we need to cross thousands of kilometres of distance and Tibet having border with Nepal is at an altitude of 4,000 metres.”
Speaking in an interview to Nepal weekly, the sister publication of The Kathmandu Post, Cheng has said, “We are even planning to link it to Kathmandu in not too distant future.” Cheng has reiterated these in an interview with Nepali Times Jan 20.
Meanwhile, China’s official China Daily newspaper Jan 23 reported that a Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be built to create a network linking Sichuan’s western passageway with Tibet, Qinghai province and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. It will be part of China’s six new railways costing The 140 billion yuan ($19.3 billion) project to be included in the national railway network plan. An agreement for this purpose was signed on Jan 10 by Sichuan’s party secretary Liu Qibao and Governor Jiang Jufeng with China’s railway minister Liu Zhijun, the report said.