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Xinjiang to Protect Bosten Lake with Kuwaiti Gov't Loan

Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has received a 34-million-dollar loan from the Kuwaiti government for a huge ecological project designed to protect Bosten Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the region.


The project, aiming to preserve the lake's ecosystem, may cost 603 million yuan (US$72 million), including 284 million yuan (US$34 million) in loans from the Kuwaiti government and 319 million yuan (US$38 million) of domestic funds, a spokesman with the regional government said Tuesday.


The ecological scheme composed of a series of engineering projects to preserve wetlands around Bosten Lake will save water, plant more forests and monitor water pollution more closely, the official said without giving his name.


He said the project will help economize irrigation water and consequently improve the environment around the Bosten Lake, boost the sustainable social and economic development in the region and provide adequate water supply to the Tarim River.


Located in the heart of the Tianshan Mountains, Bosten Lake covers an area of 972 square kilometers. It is the biggest lake in the region and one of the biggest freshwater lakes in China.


The wetland surrounding the lake is one of the four major reed growing areas in China with an annual supply of 250,000 to 400,000 tons, most of which is used for making paper. However, in the past 20 years, the wetland has been shrinking and the reed output has been falling due to pollution and other human activities.


The lake water is also becoming saline. According to the rescue project, some 20.3 hectares of reeds will be planted around the lake in the next few years to restore the wetland environment.


In the past 50 years, Xinjiang's wetlands, mostly located on the middle and lower reaches of the Tarim River and the southwestern edge of the Junggar Basin, have shrunk by half, a result of population rise and over-exploitation, according to the local government.


(Xinhua News Agency March 31, 2005)

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