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400,000 to relocate for water project
By Liang Chao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-06 06:28

Up to 400,000 people are facing relocation to make way for a project diverting water from the Yangtze River to China's parched north, it was revealed yesterday.

Construnction starts with the eastern route of the water diversion project in this December 27, 2002 file photo. The south-north water diversion project will mean that as many as 400,000 people would have to be relocated to make way for the project. [newsphoto]
Zhang Jiyao, director of the Office of the South-North Water Diversion Project Construction Committee under the State Council, announced the planned exodus at a conference on the project, which will be the largest of its kind ever built in China.

During the conference, Zhang's office signed "letters of responsibility," with vice-governors of seven provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Jiangsu and Shandong, to commit to the success of resettlement and land requisition.

Also yesterday, Zhang's office promulgated the Provisional Methods for Land Requisition Compensation and Residents Relocation for the South-North Water Diversion Project.

Levels of compensation for the displaced have been set at a higher rate than for previous projects.

"The South-North water diversion project will involve over 100 counties in seven provinces and municipalities with 300,000 to 400,000 locals to be relocated," Zhang confirmed for the first time.

The South-North Water Diversion Project is designed to take water from the Yangtze River in South China's water-rich regions to northern areas suffering serious drought.

The project consists of eastern, middle and western routes, with an estimated overall cost of 500 billion yuan (US$60.2 billion).

Construction of the first-phase of the eastern and middle routes began in 2002, with water diverted via the middle route expected to arrived in Beijing in 2010. Water from the eastern section is scheduled to reach Tianjin and some other drought-ridden cities in the north in 2007.

If completed on schedule, by 2050, the system will be capable of transferring 44.8 billion cubic metres of water annually, equivalent to "a second Yellow River".

Areas most affected by displacement will be Hubei and Henan provinces in Central China.

This is in major part due to the raising in height of the dam at Hubei's Danjiangkou reservoir, which is to be used to source the project's middle section.

The mass exodus of 400,000 people away from areas affected by the project, will see an average of 80,000 people being relocated each year.

(China Daily 04/06/2005 page1)

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