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Living conditions on the rise in remote Tibetan monastery

LHASA, July 27, 2012 -- The Chinese government is helping monks at a Tibetan monastery perched on a rough slope of the Himalaya Mountains to grow vegetables in a new greenhouse, local officials said Thursday.

Rongpo Monastery sits on the north slope of Mount Qomolangma, which is the world's highest peak at about 5,100 meters above sea level. The region's adverse weather -- long, freezing winters of gales and blizzards -- combined with its geological remoteness have made vegetables hard to come by.

The greenhouse is part of a government campaign to greatly improve the living conditions in monasteries in the Tibet autonomous region this year. A canteen, a communal bathroom and a proper garbage dump will also be built. Each monastery will have a hygiene specialist as well, the officials added.

Soldiers set up a 60-square-meter greenhouse and planted carrots and cabbage this week to see if it will work, said Tashi Dawa, chief of the Qomolangma military outpost.

"In another month, monks can harvest the vegetables," Tashi Dawa said. "The greenhouse will improve the monks' health conditions, as they were not able to eat fresh vegetables in the past."

If the carrots and cabbage grow well, Tashi Dawa said, a larger greenhouse will be built so that civilians living near the monastery may also have access to fresh vegetables.

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