CPPCC Members Hail Planned Water Diversion Project

The proposed launching of a long-debated project to divert southern water to the north has aroused great interest among members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) attending its annual session in this national capital.

The project will break the bottleneck hampering economic and social development in China whose northern regions have been long plagued by severe water shortages, said Li Jingwen, a member of the CPPCC National Committee and president of the Institute of Quantitative Economics and Technology Economics under the Academy of Social Sciences.

The project is of great importance and will have a far-reaching impact on the long-term development of the country, he said.

Li stressed that the project is in line with the requirements of China's economic restructuring for re-arrangement of resources in different parts of the country, and would ensure a sustained, coordinate and stable development of the national economy.

China has 80 percent of its water resources located in the south, while 40 percent of the country's cultivated land is in its north. Some northern areas including the national capital of Beijing are among the world's most thirsty places, with their water resources merely accounting for one sixth of the country's average.

The long-time water shortage has hampered development in the north, forcing cities there to overuse irrigation water or underground water, resulting in environmental problems.

The Draft Outline of the Tenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2001-2005) proposes launching the project as early as possible and to divert water via three channels in the eastern, central and western regions, respectively. The project is designed to divert 38-48 billion cubic meters of river water a year, which equal the annual flow of the Yellow River, the second longest in China.

Wang Dong, architect-in-chief of the Beijing Urban Planning and Designing Institute, highlighted the positive impact of the project to cities spread along the proposed courses. "Water supply is closely related to the overall quality, living standards and urban development of a city," he said.

The strategy to develop the underdeveloped China's western regions calls for the water diversion project to be launched at an early date, said Wang Guangqian, another CPPCC National Committee member. The western route of the project is expected to divert 17 billion cubic meters of water a year from the upper reaches of the country's largest river, the Yangtze, which would be one of the main factors to affect the planning of development in the western regions, he said.

Li Cijun, director of the environmental science department of the China University of Geology, is more interested in the biological impact of the project. It would provide northern regions with necessary water conditions and, meanwhile, help protect the environment in the upper reaches of the Yellow River, he said.

(People’s Daily 03/05/2001)