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53,000 People to Move out of Three Gorges Dam Area

China plans to move 53,000 residents out of the Three Gorges Dam area this year, according to the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee (TGPCC) under the State Council.

Most of the 53,000 are rural residents, 3,000 of whom live in central China's Hunan Province, and the rest in Chongqing in the southwest, Wang Kefu, an official with the TGPCC, who is in charge of the project's resettlement program.

The Three Gorges Project, the world's largest water conservancy endeavor, will take up 632 square kilometers of land in the basin. About 1.17 million residents in these areas will leave their hometowns after the project is complete, and out of this figure 125,000 will move out of the Three Gorges Dam area.

The 53,000 residents will resettle in provinces along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the well-off coastal provinces in east China, Wang said.

Groups of delegates selected from among those to be moved have visited their new areas of residence, and new housing has been under construction there since March this year, he added.

"The migrants are expected to settle in new habitations by the end of this August, so that children can start schooling for the new term and adults can start growing winter crops," Wang said.

The resettled people will get farmland as soon as the move in, he noted.

The Chinese Government originally planned to resettle all residents of the submerged land within the dam area but the worsening environment there led to a change in the migrant policy in 1999.

The Three Gorges Dam Area suffers from severe soil erosion, with 40 million tons of sand and soil injected into the Yangtze River annually.

The government started to restore farmland to forests and grassland in this area three years ago, in a bid to curb soil erosion, and thus much farmland is not available for new residents.

"That's why we plan to move these residents to provinces that have ample farmland and a better economic environment," Wang said.

About 60,000 people have applied to move out of the Three Gorges Dam area so far this year, according to the Chongqing Municipal Government.

The local government started to move rural residents out of the Three Gorges area last year and 7,451 people has resettled in other new habitations.

"Most migrants have lived a comfortable life in their new homes, " Wang said. "Some of them have married local people and others got jobs in local factories."

Residents in Three Gorges Reservoir Area Apply to Move out

More than 60,000 people living in the reservoir area of the Three-Gorges Project under construction have applied at the local resettlement bureaus to move to other Chinese provinces.

The figure is 10,000, or one-sixth, more than the planned figure, said an official with the Chongqing Municipal Relocation Bureau.

An estimated 50,000 people are expected to move out this year. About 40,000 people will be settled in 11 Chinese provinces. Up to this week, 30,000 resettlers have contacted with the counties they will settle in.

(People's Daily 04/10/2001)

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