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Water Price to Hike upon Water Diversion Project
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Water price in China's capital Beijing will certainly be raised upon the completion of a gigantic and costly water diversion project transferring water from the country's rainy South to the dry North by around 2010, Minister of Water Resources Wang Shucheng has said.


"The water price will certainly be hiked to cover project expenses and operational cost, but it is up to the tap water company to decide the final price," said Wang on the sidelines of the ongoing annual full session of the Chinese parliament, the 10th National People's Congress.


The massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project, which began construction in December 2002 and is expected to cost 500 billion yuan (US$62 billion), will divert 9.5 billion cubic meters of water from the Yangtze River, the country's longest, to North China on an annual basis once it is completed.


Beijing, one of the destinations on the central route -- one of the three designed routes -- of the project, will count on the diverted water to ease the expected water supply strain during the 2008 summer Olympic Games, said Wang.


The minister said another option for guarantee water supply of the 2008 Games is to divert water from the Yellow River in North China through a project traversing the northern province of Shanxi.


Beijing, which currently charges local citizens 3.7 yuan (46 cents) for every cubic meter of water they consume, leads the country in terms of the water price.


According to the ministries of construction and water resources, water prices in the Chinese cities are below the cost, leaving much room for further price hikes.


The Ministry of Construction in recent years launched pilot projects of "differentiated water prices" in some Chinese cities including Beijing, which means the city government sets a basic quota on water consumption for each household and charges much more than average on those exceeding the quota.


(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2006)


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