Thanks to the South-to-North Water Diversion plan, people in the drought-prone north may eventually tap into the water from the Yangtze River. But this also means thousands of people have to be relocated in Central China's Hubei Province.
The Danjiangkou reservoir will be expanded to serve as a source for the water diversion project. But to make way, tens of thousands of residents in central Hubei Province are being relocated to 20 counties throughout the province.
CCTV reporter Shen Le said, "The last time China moved so many people was for the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric project, on the Yangtze River in the late 1990's. Back then 1.4 million people were relocated as their villages would be submerged beneath a reservoir hundreds of kilometers long. The project was completed in 2006.
But this time, the biggest challenge is time. 60 thousand people in just 50 days."
It is six-o'clock in the morning at the Liaowa village in Yun County. The caravan carrying the first batch of 300 residents are ready to leave the mountainous areas. But some of their relatives need to stay longer to look after the crops.
The passengers are heading to their new hometown 300 kilometers away.
A relocated villager said, "We all are willing to move. I want to see the outside world, a bigger world."
The journey is long and tedious. Many fall asleep on the bus.
But the loud noise of firecrackers wakes them, as government officials welcome their arrival at the newly constructed relocation compound in Touhao village in Huchang township.
To make it easier for the newcomers to settle in, the local government assigned an official to each and every relocated family. The official's responsibility ranges from answering questions to replacing broken light bulbs.
You have any questions, you come to me. This is my ID card with my name on it.
Here, everything from running water to biogas is ready for the newly migrated villagers. Each household receives a bottle of cooking oil, a bag of rice and some vegetables for the first few days.
The migrated villagers will receive a one-off payment and enjoy a government subsidy for the next 20 years.
For most Chinese, the concept of a hometown is crucial. Especially in an age when many rural residents seek work in cities in the rich coastal regions. Those leaving Danjiangkou will be given a new hometown. But conditions will be so different that it will be a challenge to adjust.
Editor: Dong Jirong