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New-look river bids for clean prize
By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-06 09:30

CHENGDU: Zhang Yi, who has been away from her home city Chengdu for three years, was pleased to find that the Shahe River, once a stinking sludge with ugly buildings on both sides, was now clean, with its riverbanks surrounded by vegetated land and gardens.

"I couldn't believe what I saw.for A dramatic change seemed to have taken place all of a sudden," she said.

At least 3,000 locals of Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, have visited the river since its first-phase comprehensive revitalization project was completed last Thursday, according to a press release from the city's information office.

"We go there deliberately to appreciate the beautiful environs of the river brought about by its first-phase project," said Wang Jian, a public servant in the city's Chenghua District.

The Shahe River used to provide water for daily consumption and industrial use for more than 450 enterprises and some 100,000 people in the city's eastern suburbs. But the city's rapid expansion and economic boom meant that more than 10,000 tons of rubbish were dumped into the river each year, turning it into a foul-smelling ditch.

Since November 2001, the city has invested 3.2 billion yuan (US$386 million), most of which has been raised from the private sector, to harness the 22-kilometre-long river course, build 43 kilometres of roads, construct and renovate 16 bridges and nine dams, plant trees on 345 hectares of land and move more than 200 polluting enterprises away from the river.

The Shahe River Comprehensive Revitalization Project was officially awarded the 2004 China Best Practice for Human Habitat title on December 27 at a national meeting on construction held in Beijing.

Sources from the Chengdu municipal government said the project would apply for the United Nations Habitat Scroll of Honour Award this year, one of the world's most prestigious awards on improving the human habitat.

The city is optimistic about its success in the application, said Sun Ping, vice-mayor of Chengdu.

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