May 4, 2006
Officials in charge of China’s massive south-north water diversion scheme have had to revise the project’s first phase budget up by around 80 percent.
The cost for the first phase eastern and middle routes of the scheme to bring water from the south to the country’s arid north will rise by 101 billion yuan to a total 225 billion yuan (27.74 billion U.S. dollars).
The news was announced by Zhang Jiyao, director of the Office of the South-North Water Diversion Project Construction Committee of the State Council, during a recent tour of Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province.
The increased investment was needed to compensate residents who were forced to relocate and to pay for environmental repairs and improvements, said Zhang.
Managers were also facing rising costs associated with rising interest rates on loans and expansion of the project.
“The National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance and my office have agreed on best-value designs, and cost-saving construction methods so that every penny is spent on the construction itself,” said Zhang.
He stressed that safety and investment efficiency were priorities.
One of the world’s largest water projects, the scheme was sanctioned by the State Council in December 2002 after a half century of debate.
It is designed around three diversion routes carrying an estimated 9.5 billion cubic meters of water from the Yangtze River,the country’s longest, to North China each year.
In December 2002, work began on the eastern route, which is expected to supply water to Shandong Province by 2007. The central route began in December 2003 and is due to supply Henan and Hebei provinces, Beijing and Tianjin by 2010. Construction on the western route is scheduled to begin in 2010.
The entire project is expected to cost 500 billion yuan (61.65 billion U.S. dollars) before 2050. Enditem