Thousands of people are taking an active part in the debate on how to harness the mighty Huaihe River, which witnessed its worst flooding in 50 years this summer.
A plan on how to control the river was recently published on Xinhuanet.com.cn, China's leading news website.
Yang Shuqing, the plan's author, was born in central China's Hunan Province and has a doctorate in hydrology from a Singapore university.
He set out his views on how to build hydrological projects on the river, how to reduce flooding when the river receives continuous rains and how to alleviate droughts if the river basins suffer high temperatures and little rainfall. Yang also discusses the river's water pollution problems.
His plan immediately sparked heated discussion on the Internet. More than 1,000 Internet surfers left comments after reading the article.
Some praised Yang's scheme, some expressed their hopes to see the Huaihe River tamed, and some suggested how the plan could be improved.
A Water Resources Department official in east China's Anhui Province said some suggestions from members of the public were very constructive.
Hu Lili, a university student whose hometown in the Jingshan flood diversion area was flooded this summer, is preparing to write a dissertation on the topic of compensation for residents in flood diversion areas who had to give up their homes and farmland when floodwater was diverted.
This summer's floods on the Huaihe River caused the inundation of nine flood diversion areas in an attempt to ensure the safety of the river's main embankments. Millions of local residents had to move out of the diversion areas, losing their houses and farmlands.
Huang Jiayuan, a farmer living in the Pihe River valley, a branch of the Huaihe River, said that he thought the Pihe River should become another focus in the future, because the river basins were hardest hit by floods this summer and governments had not made plans to harness this branch.
The China Youth Daily, one of the nation's leading newspapers, recently published an editorial urging the public's suggestions to be taken on board, because some people had a wealth of understanding of the local ecosystem, geological situation and hydrological knowledge.
Wang Jinshan, governor of Anhui Province, said he always listened to "civil wisdom" on how to harness the Huaihe River. He said taming the flood-prone Huaihe River was a comprehensive project, which needed great efforts from governments, academics, and the general public.
(China Daily August 22, 2003)