Relocation Of 330,000 Residents Begins In Central China

by Dezan Shira - Date: 2010-08-23 - Word Count: 244 Share This!

In the country's largest relocation program since the Three Gorges Dam, China has ordered over 330,000 residents to leave their homes as the Yangtze River is diverted to serve drought-prone cities in northern China.

By 2014, more than 180,000 residents of Hubei Province and 150,000 from Henan Province will have left their homes as the South-North Water Diversion Project becomes operational.

A convoy of 15 busses carried away the first 500 residents on Wednesday from their homes in central Hubei's Niuhelin District, Danjiangkou City. According to state media, they will be given new housing in neighboring Shayang County, some 300 kilometers away. Around 60,000 more residents from Danjiangkou are expected to be moved by the end of September.

"We may set a record in terms of speed of relocation: 60,000 people within 50 days," Danjiangkou's Mayor Zeng Wenhua told state-run Xinhua. "We want to do it fast so we can finish it before the rainy season hits."

Displaced residents will receive a one-time payment as well as subsidies for the next 20 years, according to Zeng.

"I am surprised nobody cried when the coaches left our village. Last night, we felt sorrow when the whole village gathered to have our last dinner in our hometown together," said a local resident, surnamed Wang. By 2014, Wang's village in Danjiangkou will be submerged under 170 meters of water.

The massive water diversion project will represent China's largest relocation program since the Three Gorges Dam, which saw 1.4 million people leave their homes.

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