April 09th, 2010 | Global Times Mass exodus from flood zone
Nearly 330,000 people living near the Danjiangkou Reservoir in Hubei Province began to relocate to other places to make way for a canal being built for the south-to-north water transfer project, Xiaoxiang Morning Herald reported Thursday.
The South-North Water Diversion Project is designed to divert water from the water-rich south to the dry north. The central part of the project will divert water from Danjiangkou Reservoir on the Hanjiang River to northern China cities like Beijing and Tianjin.
The water level originally planned for the Danjiangkou Reservoir is now projected to rise from 157 meters to 172 meters. All areas below the 172-meter line will be flooded, and the villagers living below that line will be relocated.
The canal, which will be completed in 2014, will prevent problems such as algae pollution if water levels decrease dramatically. The canal is expected to benefit about 8.9 million people and 43,000 hectares of farmland in the lower reaches of Hanjiang, the Xinhua News Agency reported earlier.
This is the country’s second largest relocation project in recent years after the Three Gorges Project, the newspaper reported.
Some 812 residents from 194 families in Huaijiagou Village, which has 1,300 residents living near the Danjiangkou Reservoir, need to move to Denglin Farm in Yicheng county, a former prison rebuilt for the resettlement of the villagers.
Jiang Chenghua, one of the villagers, will receive 74,053 yuan ($10,850) in resettlement compensation, and everyone in his family will get a 2,000-yuan ($293) bonus. He will get 69,698 yuan ($10,211) in compensation for the loss of his 0.748-hectare orange orchard above the 172-meter line.
Qiu Yuansheng, an official in charge of the relocation, anticipated disputes over compensation would emerge among villagers.
“Most of the villagers want more compensation,” said Qiu, adding that some villagers have farmland or fruit farms above the 172-meter line and are demanding more money.
The Hubei provincial government amended the compensation regulation last August, stipulating that vil-lagers’ properties above the 172-meter line will be compensated through funds provided by different levels of governments.
The compensation for resources above the line is a huge burden for local government, which could only rely on loans. Statistics showed that the 600 million yuan-loan ($87 million) is not enough for the compensation in Danjiangkou.
Some villagers are satisfied with the compensation and are willing to be relocated.
“I am confident with the future, but there will be less land in the new home, and no orange orchard; I may go to work or do some business,” said Wen Guoying, a 33-year-old villager.
By Xu Shenglan