LHASA, April 26, 2017 -- Rebuilding of infrastructure and businesses has shifted into high gear in Tibetan areas damaged by a catastrophic earthquake two years ago, according to local authorities.
The work in worst-hit Xigaze City and its outer counties is expected to be complete this year, deputy mayor Basang said. The work in the Ali region is almost finished.
The 8.1-magnitude quake that jolted Nepal on April 25, 2015 killed 27 people in Tibet and disrupted the lives of 140,000 people in 19 counties of Xigaze and Ali.
Reconstruction in Xigaze will cost more than 11 billion yuan (1.6 billion U.S. dollars), including 7.1 billion yuan spent. The investment was mainly earmarked for rebuilding homes, infrastructure, and facilities for education, health care, cultural heritage and religious activities.
In addition, the local government is developing tourism, border trade and the cultural industry to increase jobs and improve locals' livelihoods.
In a village of Xigaze's Jilung County, 30 kilometers from the China-Nepal border, concrete and steel houses partly funded by the government are being built. The tremor, which killed four people in the village, toppled 80 percent of its homes and severely damaged the rest.
"We'll have a new 200-square-meter home," said villager Cewang Dorji, who lives in a tent with his wife. The government paid 182,000 yuan for their new two-story Tibetan-style dwelling and the family took out a three-year mortgage for the remaining 138,000 yuan.
The couple earn an annual income of about 10,000 yuan by making wooden bowls, farming and raising cattle. Despite a tight budget, they do not worry about the future since their three adult children are leading stable lives in relatively developed urban areas of Xigaze.
The couple's neighbor, Lhaba Cering, has it easier, as his family makes 40,000 to 50,000 yuan a year through truck transportation and making bowls.
The family lives in their old home, which was renovated after the disaster. They plan to turn their new home under construction into a family inn.
Villager Nyima Wangdui has run a family inn for five years. After the quake leveled his nine-room inn, he self-financed a new one.
"Tourists brought us 50,000 to 60,000 yuan a year," he said. "They like our homemade yak butter and other milk products."
Benba, deputy director of Jilung's development and reform commission, said a road leading to the village will open this year, allowing tourist buses to shuttle between the county seat and the village.
"The village boasts delicious buckwheat cakes and pretty azaleas, and the sunrise and sunset there are very beautiful," Benba said.