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Work begins on big Xinglong Dam

WORK started yesterday on a 3.05-billion-yuan (US$0.45 billion) dam of the Hanjiang River, the longest tributary of China's longest waterway, the Yangtze River.

The Xinglong Dam is one of the three main projects in the central route of the massive project to divert water from the south, mainly from the Yangtze River, to parched northern China.

Zhang Jiyao, director of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project Commission of the State Council, announced the start of work at a ceremony yesterday in Tianmen City's Duobao Township, central China's Hubei Province.

The Xinglong Dam is designed mainly to improve irrigation over farmland on both sides of the Hanjiang River and shipping in the dry season. It will also generate power and help control floods. About 1,240 Hubei Province residents will have to move to make way for the dam.

The dam will have spillways, infrastructure for navigation, turbogenerators houses, lanes for fish passage, and linking bridges.

Wu Kegang, director of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project for the Hubei provincial administration, said yesterday that workers had started construction on dam walls, a man-made canal and one linking bridge section.

"Hopefully, the Hanjiang River could be stopped flowing in November this year," Wu said.

Three routes

The South-to-North Water Diversion Project has eastern, central and western routes.

Work on the eastern and central routes has already started. The western route, meant to replenish the Yellow River with water from the upper reaches of the Yangtze through tunnels in the high mountains of western China, is still at the planning stage.

The central route consists of three main projects: the Xinglong Dam and associated works; raising the Danjiangkou Dam of the Hanjiang River from 162 meters to 176.6 meters; and constructing a 1,432-kilometer canal to take water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir to Beijing and Tianjin.

It will result in the flooding of 41 townships and 16 towns in Hubei and Henan provinces and 329,000 people having to move.

The route is scheduled to be completed in 2013 and operating in 2014. It would be able to divert 9.5 billion cubic meters of water a year on average and would benefit more than 30 million people.

Completion of the central route will help control flooding in the middle and lower reaches of the Hanjiang River, said Li Hongzhong, governor of Hubei, yesterday.

The 1,532-kilometer Hanjiang River, originates in Micang Mountain in northwest China's Shaanxi Province and flows southeast to join the Yangtze at Wuhan, capital of Hubei.


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