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Tibet capital undertakes 7-month, $196 million project to update and preserve ancient area

The government of Tibet's capital city has begun a seven-month project to help preserve Lhasa's ancient heart.

China's official Xinhua News Agency says the 1.2 billion yuan ($196 million) project will update the Barkhor area's infrastructure, including water, sewer and electrical lines, and remove fire hazards.

Xinhua said Friday that the government will preserve cultural relics in the area, including Tibet's most sacred shrine, the Jokhang Temple. The temple has been a symbolic center of ongoing Tibetan protests against Beijing rule. The Barkhor was a center of Tibetan unrest in 2008 that left at least a dozen people dead.

The Barkhor is popular with tourists and is full of vendors selling traditional and religious artifacts. The area is believed to date to the seventh century with the temple's construction.