Global environmental challenges
‘Borrowing’ water, Chinese style
That probably seemed a great idea at the time.
But it is causing pollution as well as discontent among farmers facing forced resettlement to make way for a mammoth construction to help the parched north — the South-to-North Transfer Project. Much of the system, of dams, canals and tunnels, is due for completion in 2013-14.
Read my colleague Chris Buckley’s fascinating feature about the project as well as a related story and a factbox. The photo above left, by David Gray, shows a fisherman near the village of Shizigang, located on the Danjiangkou Dam that is part of the project in Henan province.
Among the statistics — about 12.5 million Chinese have been moved to make way for 86,000 dams since 1949, according to one study. (12.5 million people is more than the entire population of countries such as Greece, Cuba, Belgium or Tunisia). And the “dam migrants” (as they are known) have long fanned unrest.
“We have eaten too much suffering already,” farmer Zhao Jingzhou said in Shizigang, using a common Chinese saying. He is among the survivors of an exodus to the high northwest from 1959 — thousands of others, lured by the promise of a more secure life in the arid highlands of the northwest province next to Tibet, died from hunger.
The picture above right shows work on the Danjiangkou Dam in 2008.
So what should China do?