300,000 Tibetan farmers rehoused

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Xinhua reports that 312,000 farmers and herders from 57,800 families moved into “new brick houses” in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in 2008 under a government-subsidised housing project. The five-year programme was started in 2006 aiming to build fixed-location homes for 220,000 families. Upon completion, the project aims to house 80 percent of the region’s farmers and herders by the end of 2010. To date, 860,000 farmers and herders from 170,000 families have moved into the new houses, according to TAR government statistics. The government provides some subsidy for the Tibetans, who have to contribute the bulk of cost of the building either by themselves or through loans provided by banks under government orders. Critics have argued that many rural Tibetans, being desperately poor, could never hope to repay the loans.