The mass exodus of some 200,000 people to make way for the Xiaolangdi Water Control Project on the Yellow River will end within months.
By the end of June, the last group of 4,586 residents from the inundation zone for the new reservoir in Central China's Henan and North China's Shanxi provinces are due to depart for their new homes, officials said in Beijing.
The resettlement program began 11 years ago, when construction of the project - the largest flood control scheme on the Yellow River - began, they said.
The Ministry of Water Resources signed a contract with Henan and Shanxi provincial governments early last month to ensure the resettlement program is completed on schedule.
The ministry also urged the two provinces to provide roads, power, water, farmland and housing for those displaced.
The central government increased its budget for the resettlement program from 2.15 billion yuan (US$259 million) in 1991 to 8.67 billion yuan (US$1.04 billion) in 1998, Tang Chuanli, director of the ministry's reservoir resettlement bureau, disclosed.
The budget hike took account of the increase in value of the land and property to be inundated.
Vice-Minister Zhang Jiyao told local authorities to use the funds earmarked for the program for that purpose only.
"No one is allowed to divert the funds for any other purpose," Zhang said, adding he hopes local governments can help the relocated earn more and build a well-off society.
By the end of last year, 195,400 people or 98 percent of those from the 182 villages within the project's reservoir area had moved to make way for the project, according to Lu Debin and Fan Duixiang, vice-governors of Henan and Shanxi provinces.
Seventeen towns and 787 factories or enterprises in 14 counties of the two provinces have also been relocated, they said.
Today, the displaced residents are living in new homes supported by State-funded infrastructure, including new roads for every village, telephone lines and television reception facilities.
All school-aged children in the new villages are enrolled in classes, and clinics have also been established, the governors added.
Instead of living off infertile hillsides in the reservoir area, the resettled farmers work cultivated lands with stable yields or irrigation facilities.
"The Xiaolangdi resettlement project has proven a success," Zhang said, citing a World Bank report.
The Xiaolangdi Water Control Project was completed in 2001 at a cost of 35 billion yuan (US$4.2 billion).
A total of US$1.1 billion came from the World Bank, of which US$110 million was earmarked for the resettlement of those in the inundation zone.
The project is designed to control a catastrophic one-in-1,000 year flood on the Yellow River.
It dramatically reduces ice-run hazards and prevents the river bed from rising for 20 years by reducing sediment deposits in its lower reaches by 7.8 billion tons.
(China Daily April 8, 2003)