May 7, 2006
Construction of China’s largest water diversion project expected to begin next year, channeling water from the Yangtze River for thirsty people and scorched lands to the north.
Shanghai – The construction of China’s largest water diversion project is expected to begin next year, channeling water from the Yangtze River for thirsty people and scorched lands to the north. The State Council is expected to approve the construction of the first phase of the project’s east line late this year, sources with the Ministry of Water Resources said yesterday at a conference in Shanghai. In the next 15 years, construction of the east and middle lines are scheduled to be completed and put into operation. During the period, further research on the west line, the most difficult parts of the scheme, will continue, with preparations ready for its possible construction. Water authorities are gearing up by preparing the project’s overall layout and the construction of the first two phases of the east and middle lines, said Zhang Guoliang, president of a special design administration. Zhang released a new abridged edition of the project, the most detailed ever published. The plan calls for 2,400-kilometre canals to be built in each of the first two phases of the project’s east and middle lines to link the Yangtze to the drought-stricken north. By 2015, the project will divert some 16 billion cubic metres of water from the Yangtze into areas north of the Yellow River that includes the major cities of Beijing, Tianjin and Shijiazhuang. The thirsty areas have one-third of China’s total population, gross national product, farmland and output of grain. This has forced the State to build the project as fast as possible. On the 140 billion yuan (US$17 billion) investment, Zhang said he hopes 60 per cent can be granted by the central government with the rest by localities that will benefit.