A senior Communist Party official in charge of Tibet has dismissed concerns over the environmental impact of a planned new rail project linking the remote Tibetan region to the rest of China.
“The ecological environment of Tibet will not be harmed,” Padma Choling, the vice party secretary of Tibet, said in Beijing Monday, according to Reuters.
“The railway will be well built under the condition of environmental protection. That is for sure. You can’t just say, ‘Don’t build it’,” the official was quoted as saying on the sidelines of China’s annual parliament meeting.
He was responding to concerns expressed by environmental activists after China said that it intends to build a second railroad linking Tibet to the rest of the country.
As part of a new five-year development plan, authorities announced plans Saturday to construct a rail line linking the Tibetan capital of Lhasa with the southwestern city of Chengdu.
It will mark the second rail line to Tibet.
The first railway to Lhasa, opened in 2006, which passes spectacular icy peaks on the Tibetan highlands, had also sparked environmental worries.
Exiled Tibetans and rights groups also say the rail project has spurred an influx of long-term migrants who threaten Tibetans’ cultural integrity.
Chinese officials defend the rail projects, saying the transport links will bring development to Tibet.
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