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Cultural relics to be protected
By Liang Chao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-15 06:13

Important cultural relics, mostly underground ancient tombs and sites along the central and eastern routes of China's south-to-north water diversion project, are to be protected with the aid of a special fund.

The central government has, for the first time since construction on the first phase of the two routes began two years ago, earmarked 50 million yuan (US$6.16 million) for the protection of 45 major cultural heritage sites, Lu Shengfang, director of the department of policy and regulation under the office responsible for the project, said yesterday.

Two of the sites are under national-level protection like the Great Wall remains of the Yan State in the Warring States Period (BC 475-BC 221) and four under the provincial level, according to Yuan Songling, another official.

"More than 200,000 square metres of archaeological excavation will start next year," he said.

The south-north water diversion project consists of three canals, each running more than 1,200 kilometres across the eastern, central and western parts of the country.

To alleviate the worsening water crisis in the north of the country, the eastern canal is expected to supply water to Shandong Province by 2007 and the central canal to Beijing by 2010.

The two canals will affect a large number of precious cultural relics as they pass through the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage says that at least 788 cultural heritage sites will be affected by the project; and many experts are concerned about the inevitable damage during construction. "From now on, protection of other ancient sites dotted along the two routes will be pushed forward," Yuan disclosed.

The planning of the two routes and their sub-projects has repeatedly revised, he said.

"Such uncertainty led to cultural protection lagging behind planning of construction of the two canals which will pass through seven provinces and municipalities Jiangsu, Hubei, Shandong, Henan, Hebei, Tianjin and Beijing," he added.

(China Daily 11/15/2005 page2)

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