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31 Aug 06
China to relocate 240,000 people to protect environment
BEIJING : China will spend 1.29 billion yuan (161 million US dollars) relocating 240,000 people from areas requiring ecological protection this year, the Xinhua news agency said Thursday.
The country's large number of poor people living off the land has led to massive soil erosion caused by overgrazing by farm animals and deforestation. The relocation this year would focus on poverty-stricken rural populations living in harsh environmental conditions, said an official with the National Development and Reform Commission, according to Xinhua.
The commission's figures show that more than a third of China's total land mass of 9.6 million square kilometres (3.8 million square miles) suffers from soil erosion. China also has 1.8 million square kilometres of grassland that has seriously deteriorated, Xinhua said.
Relocating people is seen as the most effective way to restore land to a healthy state. As part of the move, the commission has requested local governments provide farmland and houses for people being moved.
The report did not say where the evicted residents will go.
The policy of relocating people from ecologically fragile areas, including seven million farmers in the west, started in 2000. Government statistics show 700,000 people, most of them living below the poverty line, had been moved in the west by 2005, Xinhua said. - AFP
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