The Chinese government plans to relocate more than 9,000 people before the opening of the world's largest telescope, which is designed to reflect radio signals from deep space and perhaps signs of extraterrestrial life.
Several members of the Guizhou Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference proposed the relocation of residents in Pingtang County and Luodian County in 2015. They will be moved to four settlement sites by the end of September.
The evacuation of residents living within 3.1 miles of the telescope was suggested to create a sound electromagnetic wave environment.
The Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in the southern province of Guizhou is expected to be completed in September. Once finished, it will become the world's largest telescope, about 650 feet larger than Puerto Rico's 1,000-foot-wide Arecibo Observatory.
Started in 2011, FAST will also be three times more sensitive than Arecibo, the setting in the 1995 James Bond movie "GoldenEye." This telescope will help scientists study space at new distances, explore alien life and capture barely audible radio transmissions. If there's intelligent life in deep space, FAST can detect remnants of messages left by them.
Offered Only Pittance
The government plans to give a subsidy of 12,000 yuan ($1,839) to each resident while each ethnic minority household will get 10,000 yuan ($1,532). That's barely half of the average annual salary in China, which is at $4,755.
Not The First Time
The number of residents to be evacuated for FAST is just a small number compared to past relocation projects. In 2010, the Chinese government relocated more than a million people to pave way for the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.
This dam's reservoir is 410 miles long and floods an estimated 244 square miles of land, including more than a thousand villages.
Though compensations are intended to be given to these residents, the efforts have been plagued by local corruption. Some of the residents complained about not receiving any money promised by the government.
In the coming years, the government also plans to move about 250 million residents from rural areas to newly constructed urban cities. China plans to replace rural houses and farmlands with high-rise buildings.