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Seawater to Be Piped to Hinterland
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A plan to combat the "Big Dry" in Inner Mongolia is under way. It involves a 600-kilometer pipeline, seawater and a desalination plant.

The Xilin Gol League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, has proposed a pipe to channel seawater from Huludao, Liaoning Province, to Xilinhot in the league to help combat desertification and support its booming coal mine industry.

You Ren, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region People's Congress confirmed the plan yesterday.

"The whole north area in the country is facing serious water shortage," You said.

Storms blown from the league every spring and autumn dump sand in cities as far away as Beijing and Tianjin. The Xilin Gol League is the major source of Beijing's sandstorms.

According to the plan, the 600-kilometer pipe, made of toughened glass, will be built at Xingcheng, Huludao, across cities including Chaoyang, Liaoning Province, to Xilinhot.

A desalination plant capable of treating 1 million tons of seawater a day will be built in the Inner Mongolia end.

The region's farming industry is under threat from desertification, where about 60 percent of the earth lacks grass.

Planners have been considering the pipeline for the last two years. Last October experts and officials lobbied for the plan at discussions held in Beijing.

In January this year, experts from Chinese Society of Oceanography, studied the feasibility of the project and agreed that it met the nation's sustainable development guidelines.

The Xilin Gol League wants some of the water for its brown coal industry, which suffers from a shortage of water needed for production. But it could still be a while before the plan is implemented, if at all.

A plan in the 1950s to channel water from China's south area to the north is still under construction.

(China Daily March 7, 2007)

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