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Premier seeks more effort on water projects

By HOU LIQIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-20 07:37

Li says shortages and uneven resource distribution are hindering development

Premier Li Keqiang on Monday called for more effort to push the South-to-North Water Diversion Project and other key water conservation projects to address uneven distribution of water resources while tapping these projects' potential in stabilizing economic growth and creating jobs.

Li made the remarks while presiding over a work meeting on follow-up efforts in the south-to-north project.

Since its completion, the first phase of the eastern and middle routes of the project has played an important role in supporting water use in areas along the routes, benefiting over 100 million people, Li noted.

However, water shortages and the uneven distribution of water across regions remain key constraints to economic and social development, he said, adding that shortages are especially severe in the country's northern and northwestern regions.

Li urged authorities to plan and push follow-up work of the water diversion project and other major projects with a historic perspective and a holistic view, which would help counter downward pressure on the economy, promote effective investment, stabilize growth and create jobs.

Building more accessible routes for water diversion from the Yangtze River basin and transferring more water to the north will help beef up the country's capability in supporting economic and social development, he noted.

Officials should improve implementation plans according to the overall planning of the project and push the follow-up construction of the eastern and middle routes at an appropriate time, Li said.

Efforts should be made to conserve water and ensure project quality, Li said, adding that the comparison and selection of plans for the western route of the project should be carried out.

Initiated as early as the 1950s, the giant water diversion project consists of three routes as it is planned. Though the eastern route has been in operation since 2013, and the middle route since 2014-sending about 29.5 billion cubic meters of water combined to northern China-construction has not yet begun on the western routes, which aim to relieve the drought in northwestern China with water from the southwest.

Acknowledging the great demand for water conservation projects, Li said the construction of such projects and their supporting facilities should be prioritized.

While putting project quality first, Li also urged relevant departments and local governments to take advantage of the relatively low prices of raw materials to speed up the construction of ongoing projects.

Li further underscored the importance of using innovative ways to increase financing for the follow-up work of the south-to-north project and other major water conservation projects, calling for policy incentives to encourage financial institutions to issue mid-and long-term loans to support such endeavors.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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