Chinese lawmakers and
political advisers urged the government to compensate residents of areas in
southern China where water is diverted to the thirsty northern region.
"People in the water source regions have contributed greatly to water
resource preservation by shutting down large number of plants in their effort to
protect the local ecosystem," said Huang Wei, a lawmaker from Ankang City of
Shaanxi Province, a major water supplier of China's mammoth south-to-north water
The project, designed to send water from China's longest Yangtze River to the
north via the eastern, middle and western routes, is to begin supplying water to
Beijing in 2008, to help alleviate water shortage in this arid northern city.
To ensure the water quality, the localities along the routes have to close
their pollutant plants and turn to environment-friendly projects. This has
created financial burden to the local governments.
In Ankang City alone, 16 enterprises that produced huge profits and also
heavy pollution have been shut down, and as a result, the city's industrial
output value and tax income was reduced by more than 300 million yuan (38
million U.S. dollars) and 40 million yuan (5.12 million U.S. dollars),
respectively, per year.
"We have to create jobs for the 3,000 workers who lost their position after
the factory shutdown," said Huang, who is also secretary of the city committee
of the Communist Party of China.
Pollution of water in the areas also needs to be checked despite these
efforts, said An Qiyuan, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese
People's Political Consultative Conference, which is the highest advisory body
According to An, wastewater discharge along the upper middle route reaches
120 million tons a year, which greatly threatens the water quality.
Both Huang and An urged the central government to establish an effective
mechanism to compensate the localities, so as to encourage the enthusiasm of the
localities in environmental protection.
They suggested the government collect water-use fees from northern
enterprises and residents who benefit from the water diversion project, and
allocate the money to areas suffering losses for water source protection.
This will help "the southern and northern people share the fruit of the
water-diversion project so they can develop side by side," said Huang.
Currently, the eastern and middle routes of the project are under
construction, with total investment estimated at 200 billion yuan (25 billion