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Tibet Rail Workers Fined for Damage

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 02/01/04; January 4, 2002.]

South China Morning Post
Friday, January 4, 2002

A work team along the Tibet-Qinghai railway route has been fined 26,000 yuan (HK$24,000) for damaging plants, while a project secretary and a project master were each fined 2,000 yuan, the Legal Daily said.

The 1,118km-long line between the cities of Lhasa and Golmud will take six years to build, and once complete will be the world's highest railway. Most of the line, the first connecting Tibet to the rest of China, is at or above 4,000 metres, meaning the tracks, tunnels, bridges and embankments must withstand intense cold. The project started last summer and will cost 26.2 billion yuan, according to Xinhua.

Pro-Tibet groups overseas have raised questions about the railway's impact on the environment, and even government experts doubt the project will go to plan, said an environmental consultant who has worked on other Chinese railway lines.

"There will definitely be problems, but we don't know exactly what they are yet," said Yang Xin, of the Green Rivers Protection Association in Chengdu, whose group is carrying out a Tibet-Qinghai railway study due out next month.

The Legal Daily said the work crew was fined for crushing plants with a construction vehicle.

The article added that the Government would allocate a further 12 million yuan towards the cost of moving sand and earth five to 10km away from the tracks in the Kekexi Natural Protection Zone and the Yuzhu Peak Scenic Observation Area.

The article said railway authorities had set up clear rules and a management structure to check the preservation of nature along the tracks, punishing those who broke rules.

The railway will run through unique habitat, home to endangered animal species and the headwaters of the Yangtze and two other rivers.

The managing director of the Sinosphere Corp environmental consultant office in Beijing, Husayn Anwar, said supervision hopefully would save the Government from having to clean up pollution later.

Mr Anwar said that according to his talks with Chinese officials, unless the weight of the embankments were distributed correctly, the frozen earth may not support them.

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