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China begins resettling 330,000 for water project
Published on: 2009-10-19
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BEIJING — China has begun resettling up to 330,000 people to make way for a much-delayed multi-billion dollar project to divert water to meet growing demand in the parched north, state media said Monday.

People in the central provinces of Henan and Hubei are being moved to make way for a canal from the Danjiangkou reservoir in Hubei to Beijing, Xinhua news agency said.

Under the project, waters from a tributary of the Yangtze river, the country's longest, will be diverted to arid northern China.

The canal is part of the central line in a projected 400-billion-yuan (58-billion-dollar) project originally envisioned as a three-line system of canals and pipes.

Environmentalists have long criticised the project for its huge costs, while warning of corruption in the building and resettlement processes.

Water was originally slated to begin flowing from the central line to Beijing by 2010 but was postponed to 2014 largely due to the resettlement issue, earlier reports said.

The delay will further complicate water shortages in northern China that experts blame on global warming, drought, and rising demand in the booming Beijing region.

Currently water is being diverted from parched Hebei province to provide emergencies supplies for neighbouring Beijing.

According to plans, in 2014 about 13 billion cubic metres (460 billion cubic feet) of water is expected to be channelled along the central canal from the Yangtze tributary every year, with one tenth earmarked for Beijing.

Costly plants to treat badly polluted water along the project's eastern line have also put construction and delivery of water on that line behind schedule, earlier reports said.

The difficulties on the eastern and central line also prompted the government to postpone construction on the western line which was slated to begin in 2010.

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