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China to Move Last 100,000 Residents Away from Three Gorges Reservoir

China will move the last group of more than 100,000 residents away from the Three Gorges reservoir area by the end of next year as the final part of a massive relocation plan launched in 1993 to resettle 1.35 million people.

About 100,000 residents and five businesses will move from Kaixian County in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality to make way for the gigantic Three Gorges reservoir, whose water level will eventually reach 175 meters when the world's largest water conservation project is completed in 2008, said Wang Xian'gang, director of the Chongqing Municipal Relocation and Resettlement Bureau.

In central-southern Hubei Province, about 8,000 people will also be moved out of the reservoir area, local authorities said.

Altogether, 1.35 million people, or 220,000 more than the original plan, will have to bid farewell to their ancestral homes and settle down elsewhere by the end of 2008, a year earlier than scheduled, Zhang Baoxin, a senior official with the Office of the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee of the State Council, has said.

Natural population growth and human migration have been cited as the reasons behind the increase in the total number of people to be displaced.

The Chongqing authorities have moved out 1.03 million people, 1,392 businesses, two cities and 90 townships since the relocation project was launched in 1993, Wang said.

In Hubei Province, more than 250,000 people have been transferred from their homes in the planned reservoir area to other places since 1993.

By the end of 2006, China had input 54.4 billion yuan (US$6.8 billion) into the relocation project, Zhang has said.

The Chinese central government and local governments will invest another 55 billion yuan (US$6.88 billion) to settle residents relocated by the Three Gorges Project and support local industries to provide enough job opportunities in the next five years, Wang Hongju, mayor of Chongqing, has said.

The fund will also be used in infrastructure construction, environment protection and social development undertakings in the region, he said.

Launched in 1993 and being built at an estimated cost of 180 billion yuan (US$22.5 billion), the Three Gorges Project on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, China's longest, will boast 26 generators with a combined generating capacity of 18.2 million kw and be able to generate 84.7 billion kwh of electricity annually.

(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2007)

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