China steps up efforts to protect Three Gorges environment 


The Chinese government has enhanced efforts to protect ecological environment in the Three Gorges dam area where the construction of a gigantic hydro-electric power project is well under way.

The Three Gorges Water Control Project, the largest of its kind in the world, will begin storing water on June 1 and is scheduled to be completed in 2009. Upon completion, a reservoir with a water surface area of more than 1,000 sq km and over 660 km in length, will be shaped gradually between the area of Sandouping in central Hubei province and Chongqing municipality on the upper reaches of the Yangtze.

Environmental protection in the reservoir area has been prioritized by local governments ever since the massive water control project was launched in 1993.

Beginning 2001, Chongqing Municipality initiated a 10-year program which aims to convert more than 400,000 hectares of hilly slopes and some 667,000 hectares of denuded mountainsides to dense woodland. In addition, more than 10,000 sq km of land affected by soil erosion will be designated as sites for scores of state- and city-level nature reserves to be built at a cost of over 20 billion yuan (some 2.4 billion US dollars) in a period of 10 years.

At the same time, more than 100,000 rural residents have been relocated from the reservoir area to other places in China, so that the pressure of human activity on local environment will be eased.

In addition, around 1,000 polluting industrial enterprises and other businesses were either shut down or filed bankruptcy during the displacement process.

According to the plan, approximately 200 sewage disposal projects are expected to be completed in the Three Gorges reservoir area in a decade from 2001-2011. Upon the completion of these planned projects, the proportion of the treated sewage water in the area will reach 85 percent, which far exceeds the ratio of the waste water treated in east China's coastal areas.

All these efforts will be paid off. There will be dark-blue limpid waters in the vast Three Gorges Reservoir hemmed in by towering, lush-green mountains, said Zhang Shaozhi, director of the Chongqing Environmental Protection Bureau.

While addressing the issue of environmental protection, the Chinese government has also beefed up its efforts in rural economic structural adjustment so as to raise the income of local farmers.

Chongqing has kicked off four major environmentally-friendly projects, under which local farmers are encouraged to grow spices, traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, flowers and edible bamboo shoots.

The Three Gorges Project Construction Committee, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Science and Technology have made joint efforts to help local farmers grow indigenous sweet citruses and go in for grass-consuming livestock breeding and aquatics raising and promote local tourism in the area.

Thanks to the growth of high-efficienct farm production bases and new environmentally-friendly industries, last year's aggregate gross domestic product of the 21 districts and counties within theThree Gorges Reservoir area was quadruple that for the figure 10 years ago. Revenue rose over 200 percent and the per-capita incomeof rural population increased by nearly 200 percent.

Original source: Xinhuanet
Submit by CEIN  News on 5/30/2003