Sheng Jundong and Jin Zhu
June 18, 2010
XICHUAN, Henan – The resettlement of more than 64,900 residents began on Thursday in Central China’s Henan province to make way for a massive project that will divert water to arid regions in North China.
All the residents are from Xichuan county in Henan, which is the only region in the province that requires resettlement for the project to proceed.
In the first phase of the resettlement, 64,900 residents from 57 villages are to move to new homes on 63 sites in six cities in Henan by the end of August, said Yuan Yaosheng, Party secretary of Xichuan.
A total of 161,000 residents, over one-fifth of the total population in the county, will be resettled before April 2011, according to local authorities.
The massive South-to-North Water Diversion (SNWD) Project is designed to transfer water from the water-rich south, mainly the Yangtze River, to the drought-prone north and consists of three routes: eastern, middle and western.
As many as 540,000 people will be resettled to make way for the middle and eastern routes, China’s largest resettlement project since the Three Gorges Project, which involved the resettlement of 1.4 million people.
Of these, 330,000 residents in Hubei and Henan provinces live around the Danjiangkou Reservoir, where water is to be drawn for the middle route of the project.
Since 2003, construction has been taking place to raise the dam on the Danjiangkou Reservoir. The total area of water is expected to reach 1,050 sq km and the water level will be raised to 170 meters when the reservoir begins to store water for the diversion project in 2014.
Xichuan county is located close to the reservoir and the source of the middle route, which will channel water to Beijing, Tianjin, and 20 other cities in North China.
Ling Zengqi, a 65-year-old farmer in Linggang village, moved into his new home on Thursday, 280 km away from the village.
He said he was pleased with his new home and planned to buy some furniture and appliances for it on Friday with subsidies from the government.
However, he said tearfully, he was reluctant to leave his former home before boarding the bus for the resettlement site, though he is not worried about making a new life for himself in the new location.
“My old neighbors will still live nearby and we will have new farmland,” he said. “Some of them can go to work in factories. Except for moving to a new place, everything basically seems the same.”
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