Lofty diversion project kicks off
( 2003-12-30 00:58) (China Daily)
Ground was broken Tuesday in southern Beijing and the neighbouring Hebei Province to launch into full swing the construction of the long-awaited middle line of the south-to-north water diversion project.
"The kickoff of the Beijing-Shijiazhuang section was a milestone for simultaneous construction along the middle and eastern lines of the gigantic diversion project,'' said Zhang Jiyao, a top official with the office responsible for the water diversion project under the State Council, at the Beijing construction site on the Yongding River Tuesday.
"They will bring construction of the two lines (middle and east) into full swing in the years to come," he added as hundreds of bulldozers began work.
The south-to-north water diversion project consists of three south-to-north canals each running about 1,300 kilometres across the eastern, middle and western parts of the country.
Last December, the central government gave the green light for the construction of the middle and eastern lines of the water diversion project, China's most ambitious scheme to divert water from the Yangtze River in the south into the parched north.
In addition to these siphons being built, work on two other sub-projects related to the line in Shandong and Jiangsu provinces has already begun.
"Work on more sub-projects will follow in other sections along the two lines early next year," sources with Zhang's office confirmed.
The 307-kilometre long Beijing-Shijiazhuang section is a key part of the middle line to link four reservoirs in Hebei with Beijing as an emergency water supply channel to help ease up water shortage for Beijing, according to Jiao Zhizhong, director of Beijing's municipal water resources office.
"Upon completion, the Beijing-Shijiazhuang section, with an investment of 17.3 billion yuan (US$2 billion), will take 500 million cubic metres of water per year from the Gangnan, Huangbizhuang, Yukuai and Xidayang reservoirs in Hebei to Beijing to ensure the capital's security in water supply," Jiao said.
Overall, the south-to-north project is crucial for relieving water shortages, improving the ecosystem and promoting China's "Go West" strategy, experts say.
Specifically, it would significantly alleviate acute water shortages along the Yellow River, Huaihe River and Haihe River, eastern Shandong and some areas in northwestern China, experts predict.
The three lines of the project will divert water from the upper, middle and lower reaches of the water-rich Yangtze River into the country's drought-prone north.
The middle line is to take water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir in Central China's Hubei Province into large cities including Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang and Zhengzhou in Henan Province.
The eastern line is designed to transfer water from East China's Jiangsu Province into Tianjin while hard spadework on the west line continues.
To be built in three stages, the three canals will link up the country's four major rivers: the Yangtze River, Yellow River, Huaihe River and Haihe River.
Upon its completion scheduled around 2050, the entire project involving nearly 500 billion yuan (US$60 billion), will deliver 44.8 billion cubic metres of water into the parched north each year, about the annual volume of water in the Yellow River, to optimize China's existing water resources for future sustainability.
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