Construction of the Henan Province section of the central route of China's South-to-North Water Diversion project will kick off by the end of this month.
Construction began on the central route of the 1,277-km-long project in 2003. It aims to divert water from Danjiangkou Reservoir in central China's Hubei Province to northern China, including Beijing and Tianjin Municipality.
Sources with the Henan provincial government said the 731-km Henan section of the canal, the longest part, is expected to cost 67 billion yuan (US$8.4 billion).
Forty-three cities and townships in the province will benefit from the province's annual water quota of 3.77 billion cubic meters drawn from the 9.5 billion cubic meters diverted through the canal every year, when the first phase of the project is completed in 2008.
The project requires the relocation of 212,000 local people and the government has approved 23,667 ha. of land for resettlement.
In order to protect the canal water from pollution, the provincial government started three years ago to carry out comprehensive water conservation and sewage control measures with investment to date of 2.6 billion yuan (US$325 million), and another 1.5 billion yuan (US$187 million) is expected to be in place shortly.
Under the government's reinforced supervision, over 400 pollution producers have been either shut down or rectified for pollution treatment. No new pollution producers and water-consuming businesses have been approved along the canal route in the province in the last three years.
The Chinese government approved the South-to-North Water Diversion Project in 2002, aiming to relieve severe water shortages in parched northern areas.
The project will divert water from the Yangtze River, China's longest river, to the north through the eastern, middle and western routes. The eastern and middle routes, with total investment of 200 billion yuan (US$25 billion), are under construction.
The water source of the central route of the project, the Danjiangkou Reservoir, has a reserve of 15.5 billion cubic meters, according to the latest monitoring by the Yangtze River Water Resources Bureau.
(Xinhua News Agency September 14, 2006)