BEIJING: China will spend about USD 75 million over the next five years on repair and protection of sky burial sites in Tibet, a traditional Tibetan funeral practice.
Sky burial is a Tibetan and Mongolian tradition, whereby the dead are fed to predatory birds so that their souls may ascend to heaven.
A total 156 sky burial sites will receive funding of 490 million yuan (USD 75 million).
The government will invest 165 million yuan this year on 47 sites, mostly close to lamaseries.
Each site will be assigned 3 million to 5 million yuan to finance repair and protection work, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted local officials as saying.
Wild dogs, burial waste, bumpy roads and a lack of facilities are affecting the traditional practice, Xu Jiali, deputy head of the regional civil affairs department who had visited 60 burial sites in the preliminary investigation said.
The funding will cover the construction of roads, fences, reception rooms, mortuaries and furnaces, Xu said.
Cremation is the most common funeral practice in China.
But according to Regulations on Funeral and Interment Control, cremation is not practiced in areas inhabited with ethnic minorities who have their own funeral customs, which should be respected.