China / Society

Benefits for north means sacrifices made in the south

By Jin Zhu (China Daily) Updated: 2012-10-30 09:42

Reporter's Log

People living near the Danjiangkou Reservoir are paying the price for China's ambitious target to transfer water from the south to the drought-prone north.

The reservoir, which spans Henan and Hubei provinces, is the water source for the middle route of the massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project.

Benefits for north means sacrifices made in the south
Hundreds of thousands of families that had lived in the same place for generations have relocated to new homes to make way for the construction of the Danjiangkou Dam as far back as five decades ago.

Another 345,000 residents had been resettled - some of them more than once - by the end of September, as the government decided to raise the height of the dam for the sake of the water diversion project in 2005.

An official in charge of the SNWD project in Shiyan, Hubei province, said it is common to see residents having to uproot their lives because of the project.

Over the past two years, I've toured almost all the main areas affected by the water diversion project to conduct interviews, not only on the construction process, but the impact on lives.

Whenever I visit the two provinces, I will be reminded of the great contributions people living there have made to the project.

Such feelings deepened when I went back for a recent four-day visit that ended on Thursday as I learned that a large number of companies involving several profitable industries had been closed because of pollution control, part of a major effort to ensure a clean water supply to the north in coming years.

The economic loss caused by the closure of a large number of companies affected many people, as the areas bordering the project include 34 poverty-stricken counties.

Traveling in a car along bumpy mountainous roads, I couldn't stop thinking that these small, unknown towns and villages are actually providers of water, one of the most precious resources for many large and famous cities in North China such as Beijing.

But the contributions and sacrifices of these towns are something that many people living in northern cities will never realize.

An immigrant surnamed Huai, who lives in a government-designed village in Hubei province, told me his quality of life has improved since authorities invested in pollution treatment.

Another piece of good news heartened me again during the visit.

Cities in the north have plans to carry out reciprocal economic cooperation with the water-supplying regions.

"For water-supplying regions, authorities should realize that pollution control and economic development are the two important tasks that need strengthening at the same time," said Du Ying, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission.

I really hope his words will lead to new lives for the affected residents, who deserve our respect.

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