August 2, 2006
China is planning a network of tunnels and canals to divert water from Tibet to the parched Yellow River.
China is working on a ¬£21 billion ($US39bn) scheme to divert water from Tibet to the parched Yellow River through a 300km (190-mile) network of tunnels and canals. The country that has dammed the Yangtze River and built the highest railway is undeterred by the challenges and the cost of a project that has been under discussion for more than half a century. The scheme will form the western route of the south-north water transfer project in China and will join the eastern and central routes, which are under construction. The lines will draw water from the much larger Yangtze River to supply the north and the capital, Beijing, where water is scarce. . . . Guo Kai, a veteran hydroengineer, has offered an alternative design, which he says would be longer, at 1,240km, but less costly and complicated to build ‚Äì at ¬£16 billion and with fewer tunnels. His scheme would take only a decade to complete and provide 200 billion cu m of water a year. He said: ‚ÄúIt can quench the thirst of all China. The water supply can last for 1,000 years.‚Äù . . . Mr Guo said that his work on the Government‚Äôs western route had convinced him that it was impossible and had prompted him to devise his alternative diversion. The authorities have refused to consider his proposals. He said: “In China, the Government is both sportsman and referee.”