Chinese officials have recently announced that they will be relocating more than 9,000 people in order to build “the world’s largest radio telescope” during 2016, TIME reports.
The project, titled the Five Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), will cost as estimated $180 million USD and will be located in the southwestern province of Guizhou.
According to Chinese news source Xinhuanet, several members of the Guizhou Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) made an agreement with the government last year to have residents relocated before the facility is built.
All residents within five kilometers (approximately three miles) are being “evacuated,” Xinhuanet reports, so that “a sound electromagnetic wave environment” can be created for the telescope.
When the construction is complete, FAST is expected to span 500 meters in diameter, making it the world’s largest facility of its kind. At the moment, the largest radio telescope is located in Puerto Rico at the Arecibo Observatory and is only 300 meters in diameter.
In order to make room for the facility, the government has agreed to resettle approximately 9,110 residents, who are currently living in Pingtang County and Luodian County, into four new settlements in September. According to Mirror, the government is paying each household 12,000 yuan (roughly $1,800 US) as compensation — although the majority of these residents are already living in poverty and aren’t likely to find much better lodgings with such a bare-bones compensation package.
For Americans, the notion of being forcibly relocated by the government is hard to fathom, especially on such a big scale as China will be seeing. Americans generally move to new residences by choice, usually for career aspirations or to live into a better neighborhood. Very rarely are homeowners forced to vacate their properties without having any say in the matter.
It’s likely that these 9,000 Chinese residents aren’t too thrilled by their government’s decision either, but it’s far too late for construction of the telescope to be stopped now.