Officials on China's Water Diversion Project

China has worked out a plan to divert water from its southern part to the north via eastern, central and western routes.

Zhang Chunyuan, vice-chairman of the Subcommittee of Population, Resources and the Environment under the Ninth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), talked about China's water diversion project at a news conference sponsored by the Committee's current session here Wednesday.

Zhang said that the plan was made on the basis of extensive research in the past 50 years.

At present, China has had the conditions for constructing the eastern and central routes, 1,150 and 1,246 kilometers long respectively. The third route still needs further research, according to Zhang.

Upon completion, a total of 38 billion to 48 billion cubic meters of water will be channeled into north China through the three courses annually.

Said Yuan Guolin, an expert of water conservancy and former deputy general manager of the China Yangtze Three Gorges Development Co., "Relevant departments of China will work out effective measures to control the project's possible damage to the ecological environment to the lowest level."

He said the eastern route is designated to channel water from the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. A maximum 18 billion cubic meters of water is expected to be pumped from the river annually for the eastern route, while the Yangtze discharges 956 billion cubic meters of water into the sea each year, 600 billion cubic meters annually in dry years.

"The diverted amount only accounts for 2 to 3 percent of the total flowing into the sea," said Yuan, adding the project will not bring much damage to the ecology at the Yangtze mouth.

Yuan said the water diversion project is expected to benefit local people as a series of feasible measures are to be adopted.

He said, so long as feasible and effective measures are taken to harness and control pollution along the water diversion routes and in the water source areas, "diverted water will be clean and pollution-free."

Also present at Wednesday's news conference is Tan Qinglian, a member of the Sub-committee of Population, Resources and the Environment under the CPPCC National Committee.

Tan said proper measures can guarantee a smooth resettlement of residents to be dislocated by the water diversion project.

He said that on the one hand, difficulties exist in handling the resettlement of local residents, on the other hand, there are also a great number of positive factors.

The central route is the only project which will involve the resettlement of residents.

He said, heightening the dykes for the Danjiangkou Reservoir, the starting point of the central route, will benefit flood control and water utilization in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze.

As another favorable factor, he said, the central route is expected to boost economic development in areas it goes through, which means more job opportunities for local people.

And more important, "We can learn from the experience of resettling residents of the Three Gorges area," Tan said.

(People’s Daily 03/07/2001)