China has earmarked 770 million yuan (US$93 million) for upgrading waterlocks on the section of northern Jiangsu province of the 1,794-kilometer Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.
The project, involving US$53 million in loans from the World Bank, includes improving five existing waterlocks, and building five new ones in northern Jiangsu.
The section, which stretches 404 km with 20 waterlocks in operation in northern Jiangsu Province, handles nearly 100 million tons of freight annually, making it the busiest waterway after the Yangtze River.
Xue Yang, an official in charge of navigation on this section of the canal, said about 1,400 fleets of vessels with a combined transporting capacity of three million tons are operating on the section, but the existing waterlocks are insufficient to handle the growing number of vessels.
The Grand Canal was built section in sections through the ages. According to historical records, people on the lower Yangtze dug the Hanjiang Canal in 486 B.C. near present-day Yangzhou City in Jiangsu, linking the Yangtze and Huaihe rivers.
The bulk of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal was done in the Sui (581-618) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties.
(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2003)