Chinese premier urges good work in water diversion project 2003-08-14 19:04

Backgrounder: China's south-to-north water diversion project


  BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- China's water diversion project, to bring relief to China's drought-ridden north by diverting waterfrom the Yangtze River, is another mammoth water conservancy scheme, larger even than the Three Gorges Project.

  The massive project is expected to require investment of about 486 billion yuan (about 59 billion US dollars), twice as much as the cost of the Three Gorges Dam project.

  Once the project is completed, up to 44.8 billion cubic meters of water will be diverted through three canals to the north, aboutthe annual volume of all the water in the Yellow River in normal years.

  The acute water shortages in the valleys of the Yellow, Huaihe and Haihe Rivers, which are home to more than one-third of the country's farmland, grain output, population and gross domestic output, will be significantly alleviated.

  The scheme has taken 50 years of planning to get to this starting point, and the project is expected to take another 50 years to be completed.

  In the 1950s, the late chairman Mao Zedong who was also the founder of the People's Republic of China, proposed for the first time the idea of bringing water from the country's south to the north.

  After 50 years of research and discussion, the overall program for the water transfer project was approved in principle by the State Council on August 23, 2002.

  According to the program, China will build three canals, all more than 1,000 km in length, to act as the eastern, central and western diversion corridors.

  The three diversion lines will link together four of China's seven major rivers, namely the Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe and Haihe rivers.

  The northern part of the 1,789 km Hangzhou-Beijing Grand Canal,built 1,400 years ago, will constitute the main body of the eastern canal, which has been under construction since last year.

  Work on the central canal, starting from Jiangsu Province, running through Hubei and Henan provinces and ending in Beijing, is scheduled to start in October this year.

  The third waterway, to be finished by 2050, will cut through high mountains near Tibet to link the Yangtze with the headwaters of the Yellow River, which is chronically dried up from overuse.

  When the severe water shortage in north China is alleviated, the ecological environment will benefit and the country will be able to sustain social and economic development.

  Meanwhile, prevention and alleviation of water pollution in theYangtze will also be a priority to ensure the diverted water is clean.

  As part of the project, 24 billion yuan, or one third of the budget for the diversion canal running through Jiangsu and Shandong provinces, has been earmarked for 379 projects designed to cut waste pollution in areas along the canal, including waste water treatment plants. Enditem

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