LHASA, March 9 (IANS) Tibetan authorities are slated to spend 490 million yuan ($75 million) over the next five years on the repair and protection of sky burial sites, officials said on Wednesday.

Sky burial is a Tibetan and Mongolian tradition, whereby the dead are fed to predatory birds, instead of being cremated or buried.

In total, 156 sky burial sites will receive funding. The regional government will invest 165 million yuan ($253 million) this year on 47 sky burial sites, Xinhua news agency reported.

Each site will be assigned 3 to 5 million yuan to finance repair and protection work, according to the regional civil affairs department.

Wild dogs, burial waste, bumpy roads and a lack of facilities for mourners are affecting the practice, said Xu Jiali, deputy head of the regional civil affairs department who visited 60 sky burial sites during an investigation.

The funding will cover the construction of roads, fences, reception rooms, mortuaries and furnaces to burn waste, Xu added.