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Yellow River Likely to Turn Clear

There is a hope for the Yellow River, known as one of the world's muddiest, to become clear as a result of the "Grain for Green Project" aimed to treat soil erosion along the river, according to a group of water experts, who are in Xi'an to attend the Western Forum Tuesday.

Cheng Andong, governor of Shaanxi, and director of the Yellow River Water Resources Committee, said that the ecological recovery project of returning farmland to grassland and forests will continue for generations.

The high-level forum is held annually to discuss ways to accelerate the economic development in the middle and western regions of China.

The Yellow River, running through the Loess Plateau, washes off 1.6 billion tons of mud annually with 37.5 kg silt content per cubic meter of water.

The 5,400-km-long river irrigates 20 million ha of arable land and feeds 100 million people.

As an important province on the middle reaches of the river, Shaanxi had 40 percent of its river banks covered with forests and grass by the end of the last century.

The province so far has 640,000 square km of loess coverage, which has been listed as a major soil erosion area.

Experts said that an ecological recovery project carried out along the Wuding River, a tributary of the Yellow River, has helped reduce the silt content by 57.7 percent since the project started in 1982.

The river is likely to turn cleaner, according to the experts.

The local governments have resorted to legislation measures to protect the vulnerable environment along the river. Some 230 counties along the Yellow River have drafted regulations and policies on the conservation of soil and water, and over 300 counties have set up monitoring centers.

The river's silt content is expected to be reduced by half in 2030, estimated Lu Zongfan, a research fellow with the Northwest Water Conservation Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

(Xinhua News Agency 09/03/2001)

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