China will delay ambitious plans to divert billions of water to its arid north amid environmental concerns, reports the Wall Street Journal.
China will delay the central three sections of the $62 billion “South-to-North” water diversion project, a scheme that will use channels to move water from central and southern regions to the North. The price tag is more than three times that of the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project that was completed this past October. The project, which was first proposed by Mao Zedong in 1952, will require the relocation of 300,000 people.
The delay will primarily affect the central section of the project, pushing out the completion date from 2010 to 2014. The eastern route, which largely tracks the ancient Grand Canal, is mostly completed, while the most challenging section — the western route, which requires moving water over mountainous terrain — isn’t slated for operation until around 2050, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Chinese government says the project will help relieve chronic water shortages in the Beijing and surrounding areas. Critics say the project will waste massive amounts of water through evaporation and worse pollution. Some local governments have become critical of the project and unusually, China state media has been allowed to report on the controversy.
Shai Oster. China Slows Water Project. Wall Street Journal, DECEMBER 31, 2008
China moves as environmental problems mount September 19, 2006
China, the world’s most populous country and fastest growing economy, faces a host of environmental problems. Energy and water shortages, water and air pollution, cropland and biodiversity losses, and escalating emissions of greenhouses gases are all concerns as the country moves towards world superpower status. While these issues could threaten to destabilize the country and derail economic growth, it appears that it is taking steps to address some of these challenges.
China’s Imminent Water Crisis May 30, 2005
Back in 1999, Wen Jinbao, a Chinese deputy prime minister, warned of the dire water situation in China and of looming water shortages. Since then, Mr. Wen has assumed the post of prime minister and pledged to provide clean water for his people. His administration has guaranteed an additional $240 million this year to achieve this end. However, this amount may not be nearly enough to satisfy China’s massive demand. The country has long suffered from alternating periods of severe flooding and drought. Combined with high pollution levels and a history of heedless and haphazard policies, the country is witnessing a precipitous drop in this most essential supply. High ranking officials and international agencies alike are deeply concerned about the situation and with good reason.