TibetanReview.net, Jan 23, 2008
Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is to move 52,000 more rural Tibetans into new Socialist Village homes in 2008 under its project called Comfortable Housing Project, spending 676 million yuan, reported China’s online Tibet news service en.tibet.cn, as well as Xinhua, Jan 17. They said that the project was implemented in 2006 with an aim to build new homes for 220,000 households, or 80 percent of TAR’s farmers and herders, by the end of 2010.
The Xinhua report said that in the past two years, the TAR government had spent more than 1.3 billion yuan ($179.3 million) to help farmers move into brick houses from wood-and-earth residences and nomadic herders to settle down. “To date, 570,000 farmers and herders from 112,000 households have taken part in the project,” it said.
Critics have accused China of debt-burdening the rural Tibetans for the sake of boosting its international image with the project, providing very little subsidy and compelling farmers to take large loans they could never hope to repay. The new homes were also reported to be substandard, although looking glittery from outside.
The settling down of nomads without a viable and sustainable alternative means of livelihood, they allege, have created serious disruption in their social and economic lives. The resettlements often involve the slaughter of animals belonging to the mostly nomadic herders, relocation to poorly built accommodation and inability to find work due to lack of skills, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report last year.
Also, major projects to resettle Tibetan nomads in what are now Qinghai and parts of Sichuan Province are continuing in the name of protecting the environment and boosting living standards.