Public subsidies going to house Tibetans

By Dachiong and Wang Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-03-15 07:50
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Payments go to benefit more than 1 million peasants and herdsmen

LHASA - Dawa, a 48-year-old peasant in a small village in the Tibet autonomous region, has seen many recent changes in both his house and life.

His family, which lives in Sangmda village of Doilungdeqen county near Lhasa, built a house at the end of 2008 after having received a subsidy of 24,000 yuan ($3,660) from the county government.

And an additional 3,000 yuan came a year later, when Dawa was doing work to protect the new building from earthquakes.

Dawa is one of more than 1 million peasants and herdsmen who have settled down in newly built homes in Tibet, which is often called the roof of the world.

As part of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) for Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region, a project was begun to improve living conditions in the region.

Its chief goals are to renovate old countryside buildings, to find settled homes for nomads and to move the poor to places where they have better chances of prospering.

"These are practical benefits," Dawa said.

He said a comfortable home and a stable life are among the things he most hopes for. And he has made some progress toward his goals.

In Dawa's living room is a TV set that receives more than 40 channels. The local government provided it free of charge.

The same project led to the construction of recreational and reading rooms in the villages.

By the end of 2010, about 17 billion yuan had been invested in the project. That gave aid to 275,000 households and the 1.4 million residents living in them, according to the latest official figures.

The money came from local funds, nongovernmental funds and funds allocated to Tibet by the central government.

As the project nears its end, the average amount of space in which peasants and herdsmen in the region live has reached 23.62 square meters, an increase of 4.07 sq m.

Mima, head of the Sangmda villager's self-governance committee, said of the 180 households in the village, the residents in more than 160 have moved. And new homes are being built for the rest.

In deciding how to best distribute subsidies like the money that went to Dawa, the government primarily takes into account the financial conditions of individual households.

"For the poorer families, each of them gets 90,000 yuan, which is basically enough for the construction of a new house," Mima said. "For the wealthier ones, they could get 37,000 yuan."

Each of the households in Dawa's village now has a tank that stores gas used for burning. Such equipment has changed the residents' old habit of fueling boilers and cookers with dried cow manure.

Dawa said manure takes too much work to collect and, when burnt, produces an unhealthy smoke that is especially harmful to the eyes.

After building a new house, Dawa bought several milk cows from outside the region. The animals supply the family's demands for butter, cheese and other dairy products.

In another sign of good fortune, a mobile telephone network recently established a presence in his village and in nearby places.

"I now talk with my son, who studies at the University of Science and Technology Beijing, anytime I want to," he said.

China Daily