Beijing Water

China to invest billions on water resources

Agence France-Presse
February 23, 2006

Beijing announces plans to spend US$48 million in the next few years shoring up embankments and building water-control projects.

Beijing – China will invest over 400 billion yuan (48 billion dollars) in water resources projects over the next five years as part of efforts to protect the flood-endangered south while providing supplies to a parched north, officials said Thursday. “During the 10th five-year plan (2001-2005), the total investment in water conservancy will be over 400 billion yuan, with the central government responsible for some 200 billion,” said vice minister of water resources Zhang Jiyao. Of the funds, 130 billion yuan is investment remaining from the ninth five-year plan (1996-2000), Zhang told reporters. The money would be spent on dike reinforcement and shoring up reservoirs along China’s major rivers, while soil conservation projects and water conservancy in China’s underdeveloped western regions would also take priority, he said. Since 1998, the central government has invested 136 billion yuan in water projects, with 93 billion yuan of this coming from treasury bonds, Zhang said. In the next five year period, China’s current interventionist fiscal expansion would slow down, so water project funding would be increasingly dependent on fiscal revenues and not from debt issues, he added. China has traditionally invested huge sums in water projects, with centuries of efforts at taming flooding along the Yellow River and the building of the north-south Grand Canal among the best known undertakings. During the past decade, hydroelectric projects, like the Yangtze River’s Three Gorges Dam and the Yellow River’s Xiaolangdi Dam, the world’s two largest hydroelectric dams, have cost billions of dollars. But since devastating floods along the Yangtze in 1998 and years of drought in China’s northern regions, dike construction, irrigation projects and reservoir construction had taken priority, Zhang said. Last month the government announced it would spend more than 60 billion dollars over a decade to re-route water from the Yangtze to three rivers in the north, the Yellow, Huai and Hai, whose basins are running dry. The figure announced Thursday includes five years of building the first of three planned diversion routes in this project. Beijing is additionally to begin a three billion dollar water project aimed at guaranteeing an ample water supply to the a capital plagued with water shortages. The hugely costly plans also involve the relocation of large numbers of people. The north-south re-routing project will see 120,000 people shifted, authorities said last month, while the Three Gorges Dam requires more than 1.1 million locals moved from their homes. China’s water resources per capita amount to 2,200 cubic meters, just a quarter of the world’s average, according to official figures. The government predicts that by 2030, with population increases, water resources per capita may fall to the alarming level of 1,700 cubic meters.


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