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Anhui Plans Massive Migration from Flood Diversion Areas

Officials in east China's Anhui Province has announced a massive migration from flood diversion areas in preparation for floods along one of China's leading rivers, the Huaihe River, next year.

"It is a new way to control and minimize losses caused by Huaihe River floods," said Vice-Governor Zhao Shucong of Anhui, where the unruly river runs. Some 300,000 people living in the flood diversion zones need to be relocated from low-lying places to higher areas beginning this week, Zhao added.


To better contain the floods along the Huaihe River, the central government has agreed to invest more than 1.3 billion yuan (US$157 million) for relocation and house construction.


"It will be no longer necessary to evacuate masses of local residents from the flood diversion areas in the future after we complete the displacement next year," said Zhao, who leads a working team for the construction of new homes for those migrants.   


Each household relocated will be given a subsidy of 15,000 yuan (US$1,800) to build new homes and 2,000 yuan (about US$240) for public facilities like water, electricity, and the building of roads and schools.


Official figures show the heavy floods along the Huaihe River in summer this year claimed at least 16 lives and caused 18.17 billion yuan (US$2.2 billion) of direct economic losses in the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Henan.


The Huaihe River is notorious for its frequent floods with 300 disastrous floods recorded over the past five centuries, endangering the lives of local people in the river valley, which produces 18 percent of the country's food grain and 15 percent of coal.


The flood-prone river has proved a continuing headache for the central and local governments every summer when heavy rains pelted down in the valley.


The authorities usually resort to breach dykes and embankments to release onrushing water into the flood diversion zones in a bid to ease pressure in the lower reaches of the Huaihe River.


However, analysts hold that locals dwelling in the flood diversion areas were most vulnerable since thousands of them had to be evacuated every time the floods arrived.


In Anhui Province alone, 650,000 people were evacuated from 21 such flood diversion zones in the summer when the most devastating floods since 1954 ravaged the Huaihe River valley.


About one third of Anhui's 1.05 million destitute people live in the province's 21 flood diversion areas, nine of which were used to divert floodwater this year.


(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2003)

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