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800,000 Residents in Xinjiang to Use Methane in Five Years

In the next five years, approximately 800,000 farmers and herdsmen in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are expected to use methane rather than wood for cooking.

A total of 4 billion yuan (about US$500 million) from the central and local governments is planned to be spent on increasing the rate of methane usage up to 40 percent, according to a source of the Development and Reform Commission under the Xinjiang government.

The fund will be launched chiefly into southern Xinjiang, where fuel is rare in a fragile ecology, the source acknowledged.

Peasant farmers and herdsmen in the desert areas of Xinjiang cut down lots of trees every year to use as fuel and deforestation is a leading cause of environmental deterioration.

A family which has an eight-cubic-meter marsh gas pool can save 1.5-ton wood or one-ton coal a year, Ismail, an official of the local agriculture department told Xinhua.

"The methane can be used for both lighting and cooking. With its use, peasant farmers and herders can keep their yards very clean and neat by pouring the livestock excrement into the pool" to collect the methane, Ismail said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 9, 2006)

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