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World's top project must be of world standard
( 2003-08-15 07:21) (China Daily)

Premier Wen Jiabao Thursday called on builders of the world's biggest water diversion project to do their utmost to ensure standards meet international levels.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao speaks at the first plenary meeting of the State Council's Committee for the Construction of the South-North-Water-Diversion Project. [Xinhua]

The project aims to divert Yangtze River water in the south through three canals to the north.

Work began last year on the eastern and central routes and together they will be up to 1,800 kilometres in length. The work will go full steam ahead this year, Wen said.

The western route is now undergoing a pre-construction survey and it is expected to be ready by 2010.

"We must be meticulous in organization, design and construction, and work hard to build a world first-class project," the premier said at a meeting of a State Council committee in charge of the project.

Top priority must be given to frugal use of water resources and pollution control, he stressed.

The parched northern areas of Beijing, Tianjian and Hebei Province will be a priority among areas to benefit from the diversion canals, Wen said.

Government departments are working on plans to protect the water from pollution along the diversion, Wen said.

By 2008, 295 water pollution control projects will have been built along the eastern canal. Sixty-five projects to treat waste water have already been completed while 66 are under construction.

The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) admitted to concerns about water pollution along the eastern canal. All seven spots monitored by SEPA were reported to be polluted.

The committee Thursday approved in principle eight projects to start soon. They include a canal from Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province to Tuancheng Lake in Beijing, the reinforcement of the dam of Danjiangkou Reservoir in Hubei Province, a tunnel crossing the Yellow River, and sewage treatment plants in cities along the eastern canal.

Wen stressed the importance of scientific decision-making in the design, construction and management of relevant facilities for the gigantic project.

He said the project would benefit from the ongoing water pricing and water resources management reform. New rules to charge enterprises and residents for disposing of waste water will be adopted.

On the eastern canal alone, 24 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion) will be invested in pollution control, about one third of the budget for the canal. Work on the eastern section of the massive water-diversion project should be completed by 2007, one year earlier than originally scheduled.

About 200,000 to 300,000 local residents will be relocated to make way for the central route, mainly in Central China's Hubei and Henan provinces, said officials with the Ministry of Water Resources.

The first phase of construction of the project's eastern and central routes will cost 124 billion yuan (US$15 billion), Xinhua News Agency reported.

Once the first phase is completed, the project will be able to divert about 13.4 billion cubic metres of water from the Yangtze to the north annually.

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