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People Are Better Off in Three Gorges Resettlement

With 10,400 new residents in the county, Yichang takes the lead in resettlement due to the construction of the massive Three Gorges Dam Project.

Of these people, 10,100 have built new houses, and 6,380 of them have gained lifetime security by joining an old-age pension system, getting a job or developing farmland.

Statistics show the incomes of the majority of those resettled people have risen, and the county's economy is developing at an unprecedented speed. In 1995, agricultural and industrial total output in the county soared 40.5 percent over the previous year.

"The earlier people move away from their original dwelling sites, the sooner they become better off," townspeople said.

The average salary of people in the first resettlement village has reached 4,898 yuan (about 590 US dollars), compared to the 500 yuan (about 60 US dollars) they were earning three years before they moved.

The village has become the richest in the county. Officials said the resettlement has allowed their people to get rich ten years ahead of schedule.

Tongshuwan, a village in Hubei Province, is the first village that will be submerged once the reservoir is filled with water. Here, 1098 of 1146 people will have to be resettled.

As an experimental base for resettlement, 904 people in the village have moved into new dwellings, and those resettled have planted 60 hectares of citrus orchards.

To the villagers' surprise, their living conditions have improved: their average income was 5.35 times that of 1990's figure.

Villagers said the reason for their improved living conditions can be attributed to government subsidies and a series of preferential policies.

Large scale resettlement has provided a historic opportunity to develop the economy in the project's reservoir area.

After the project is completed in 2009, the reservoir will submerge 632 square kilometers in 21 counties and cities in Hubei and Sichuan provinces. More than one million people will have to be resettled.

In order to provide a better life for the resettlers, the Chinese government has adopted measures to develop the economy in the reservoir area.

Other measures to raise resettler's incomes include building grain, fruit and forestry bases on the barren hills and available grasslands, engaging in aquatic production in hundreds of rivers after the reservoir fills up, and strengthening infrastructure construction. Officials also plan to develop township enterprises and the service industry with the help of the government's resettlement fund and with support from other areas.

State investment in the Three Gorges Project, the world's largest of its kind, was 90 billion yuan. Of this amount, 40 billion yuan (about 482 million US dollars) was used for resettlement.

By May 1996, 20,000 people have been resettled and all of them enjoy a better life, thanks to the assistance of the governments at various levels.

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