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Tibet Moves into the Fast Track

The Tibet Autonomous Region plans to invest 28 billion yuan (US$3.7 billion) in 10 key construction projects this year.

These will include an extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the region.

"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 property to the railway," said Qiangba.

The 254-kilometer extension line, which links the two largest cities in Tibet - Lhasa and Xigaze - is the first feeder line for the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

Construction will begin this year and be completed in 2010, at a cost of 11 billion yuan.

Located in the southwest region of Tibet and bordering Nepal, Bhutan and India, Xigaze is 280 kilometers southwest of Lhasa.

The Qinghai-Tibet railway, running 1,956 kilometers from Xining City in Qinghai Province to Lhasa in Tibet Autonomous Region, was officially put into operation in July 2006.

It is the highest in the world and ended Tibet's history without a railway.

Nine other projects are also expected to start this year, including the Zangmu hydropower station on the Yarlung Zangbo River, the water-control project in Pundo County and the renovation of the Sichuan-Tibet highway.

(Xinhua News Agency January 21, 2008)

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