Authorities have started resettling 330,000 people in central China to make way for a massive project to divert water hundreds of miles (kilometers) to the booming cities in its arid north, a report said Sunday.
The estimated $62bn water diversion could be nearly three times as expensive as the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project.
When completed, the project’s three routes will move billions of tons of water from China’s central, southern and western regions through pipes and canals to Beijing and other fast-growing northern cities.
The central route, due for completion by 2014, is expected to supply about a quarter of Beijing’s water.
But critics have warned the water diversion will cause environmental damage and still not quench the boomtowns’ thirst.
People in Hubei and Henan provinces are being relocated from their homes near the Danjiangkou reservoir, where a sluice will be built to divert water from the Yangtze river and its tributaries, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The resettlement will be completed in 2011, Xinhua said, citing Henan provincial authorities.
Each relocated family will be compensated for losses in immovable property and be allocated arable land in their new villages and an annual subsidy of 600 yuan ($88) per person for 20 years, Xinhua said.
Earlier this year, some of the villagers said officials had forced them to sign an agreement to relocate, and that officials were offering less than half the land the farmers currently use.
The Three Gorges Dam forced more than 1.4 million people to move, their villages flooded by a 660-kilometer (410-mile) long reservoir that the dam created on the middle Yangtze.