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Water diversion vs heritage protection
Updated: 2005-10-09 07:18

While China is stepping up the construction of its south-north water diversion project, a projected life line for hundreds of millions of people in the north, a plan for protecting the cultural relics at the construction sites is still under discussion.

Water diversion vs heritage protection
Cranes work at a construction site in Jiaozuo, Central China's Henan Province September 27, 2005. [newsphoto]

The contradiction between modernization and cultural heritage protection is again in the spotlight in the massive infrastructureproject.

Largest month, an investigation group composed of national advisors, heritage protection experts and water conservancy experts had an inspection tour along the route of the water diversion project, including Shandong, Jiangsu, Hubei and Henan provinces, to see how cultural relics are protected.

"Archeological excavation and heritage protection should have been done before the start of the project. But the preservation plan has not been approved yet and the fund is not in place," saidTong Peihua, deputy director of the archaeological institute of Shandong Province.

In order to tackle the problem of water shortage in the northern part of the country, China launched the south-north water diversion project at the end of 2002.

The eastern route of the project is expected to supply water to Shandong by 2007. The central route is due to supply water to Henan and Hebei provinces, Beijing and Tianjin by 2010.

A reservoir of precious Chinese cultural artifacts will be affected by the project, as it courses through the hinterland of China's ancient civilization.

Many cultural relics are facing the threat of damage as the time and money spent in heritage protection is far from enough. Some experts have warned that the project would leave a deep woundin China's cultural heritage without immediate measures for protection.

The latest figure provided by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage shows that a total of 788 cultural heritage sites will be affected by the south-north water diversion project.

They include at least two world heritage sites -- Yuzhen Palaceon the Wudang Mountain and the Great Wall remains of the Yan State in the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

In addition, two heritage sites under national level protectionand 24 sites under provincial level protection will also be affected.

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