China says it has completed its massive relocation project of Tibetan nomads into new settlements in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The controversial project has been criticized as the way to control the Tibetans. China's official Tibet TV website announced last Thursday that 2.3 million people in the TAR have been moved into new houses. According to Qinghai province's five-year plan, 90 percent of the nomads living in that area are due to be relocated by the end of this year. As the relocation is complete or near to complete on the Tibetan Plateau, China is now encouraging nomadic herders to join "cooperatives." State-run Qinghai Online News this month said, “Local nomads [have begun] enjoying a new modern life in their crystal-clean new homes while all of their livestock are raised in the endless grassland under a cooperative style [system].” China has said moving nomads into permanent homes provides them with a better life and could help the fragile environment of Tibetan Plateau. However, Professor Julia A Klein at Colorado State University and others who conducted research on how traditional nomadic grazing system worked with the plateau environment found that grazing provided nutrients for the top soil which helped with the regeneration of grass. Critics say that the program ignores environmental realities, and is really a way for the authorities to control the livestock and land that belonged to the nomads. Wang Yongchen, a Beijing based Chinese environmental activist and journalist told VOA Tibetan Service that nomadic culture has sustained the area's environment thus far.