China plans to finish clearing the vast Three Gorges Reservoir area below the 135-meter water level before the end of the first quarter of 2003 to prepare the submersion of the area.
Addressing a telecast conference Thursday in Beijing, Guo Shuyan, director of the office of the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee of the State Council, urged the areas involved, namely Chongqing Municipality, southwest China, and Hubei Province, central China, to finish clearances and related soil and water conservation programs.
The Three Gorges Reservoir will be 663 kilometers long and 58,000 square kilometers in size.
The Chinese government has ordered governments in the reservoir area to clear away dismantled houses, factories, wastewater and solid rubbish that may pollute the water.
The reservoir is planned to be up to 135 meters deep when it is filled next June.
All the residents in the areas to be submerged next year would be relocated, as scheduled, by the end of this year, the director said.
He said 664 of the 788 factories in the area had been relocated.
China will invest 39.2 billion yuan (US$4.7 billion) in projects to curb water pollution in the reservoir area and upper reaches of the Yangtze River over the next eight years.
The Three Gorges Project will help control flooding in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze.
It will also generate hydroelectric power equivalent to 50 million tons of coal annually after generators are operating at full capacity.
(Xinhua News Agency September 20, 2002)