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Ecology Protection Efforts Urged in Three Gorges Reservoir Area

Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan has urged the governments of Chongqing Municipality and Hubei Province to double efforts in treating geological disasters and protecting the ecology in the Three Gorges Reservoir area.

He was speaking during a field survey on the construction, operation and management of the world's largest water conservancy project launched in 1993 involving a budget investment of 180 billion yuan (US$22.5 billion).

Claiming the project had brought benefits in flood prevention, power generation and shipping, Zeng said all enterprises participating in the project should beware of production accidents, improve production safety and produce local ecology.

During his visit to Wushan County of Chongqing, Zeng inspected local ecology protection, geological disaster treatment and vocational training services and inquired into the resettlement of residents.

Chongqing Vice Major Yu Yuanmu said last month that about four million people in the Three Gorges Reservoir area extending 600 km in Chongqing were to be relocated in the next 10 to 15 years after officials and experts exposed the ecological damage caused by the project.

Previous reports said the shore of the reservoir had collapsed in 91 places and a total of 36 km had caved in while frequent geological disasters such as landslides threatened the lives of residents around the reservoir area.

"The resettlement work should target future development," Zeng said. The construction of infrastructure facilities should be advanced while tourism and farm produce processing should be advanced to boost local economic development.

"The top priority of the resettlement work is to make sure the relocated people feel at ease with earning bread and getting rich. Hence, the problems relating to vocational training, social security, education, and medicare must be properly tackled," he said.

Zeng required that emergency and non-emergency residences be built for the residents in the Three Gorges Reservoir area to evacuate and escape geological disasters.

To secure the sustained development of the reservoir area, Zeng said that work shall never be lax on the conversion of cropland to forest, soil and water conservation, the green belt along the Yangtze River and sewage and waste disposal.

Located on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, the project comprises a 185-meter-high dam, completed in early 2006, a five-tier ship lock, and the reservoir.

Construction of the project has already necessitated the resettlement of at least 1.2 million people.

(Xinhua News Agency November 9, 2007)

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