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Reverting reclaimed land to waterways a success
Updated: 2004-06-04 14:01

China announced Thursday that it had achieved initial success in the campaign to revert reclaimed land along the flood-prone middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, the country's longest, to waterways.

Cai Qihua, head of the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee of China, said 2,900 sq km of water area have been restored since 1998 when the central Chinese government decided to launched a campaign to revert reclaimed land to waterways following a major flooding that year which incurred heavy losses to the country.

The campaign also calls for demolishing dikes to make way for discharged flooded water and displacing residents who used to live in homes built on the reclaimed land behind the dikes.

With the campaign in full wing, Cai noted, the 6,300-km Yangtze River and Poyang and Dongting lakes that are situated on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, have seen a rise of 13 billion cu m in their capacities of water regulating and storage.

"Thanks to the implementation of the campaign, 2.45 million residents in Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Anhui provinces, all situated along both banks of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, have completely got rid of the flood threat and have been living in peace and contentment ever since," said Cai.

In the past seven years, the central government has altogether set aside 12.63 billion yuan (US$1.52 billion) for backing the implementation of the campaign and construction of infrastructure in newly opened resettlement centers because of implementation of the campaign.

Wen Fubo, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the implementation of the campaign of reverting reclaimed land to waterways along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze has proved effective not only in increasing capacities of the Yangtze and Poyang and Dongting lakes for discharging and storing flooded waters, but also in alleviating flood control pressure of the embankments built along the Yangtze and the two lakes.

"The campaign has also been effective in advancing the construction of small towns in rural areas and promoting regional economic growth apart from lessening the difficulty in flood control and relevant rescue efforts, the consumption of manpower, material resources and financing, and eventually reducing the losses from disasters," said Wen.

The academician's point of view is echoed by Li Antian, well-known Chinese specialist on water resources, who heralded the campaign as a move of "mankind giving way to surging flooded waters".

"The campaign has helped create a harmony between human beings and the nature and is conducive to restarting a healthy cycle in the eco-environment of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, " said Li, who added the campaign would be good for promoting a sustainable development of the entire Yangtze River Valley.

The summer floods on the Yangtze River in 1998 caused an estimated 39.7 billion yuan (US$4.8 billion) in economic losses to Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces alone. And 37.444 million people and 2.732 million hectares of farmland in the three provinces were affected by the floods which also a total of 228 people.

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