For years, China has been undertaking a little-reported engineering project, the South-North Water Diversion Scheme.
The idea is to bring massive amounts of water from the water-rich south to Beijing and other parts of the drought-ridden north.
This half-century old project is more than twice as expensive as the Three Gorges Dam and three times more than the railway to Tibet, reports The Guardian.
The British newspaper was recently allowed to go into the pits and tunnels at Jiaozuo in Henan province, at the heart of the entire project — one of the first foreign media outlets to do so.
At a cost of $62 million, the project aims to bring water from the Yangtze basin through massive underground pipes, tunnels and other infrastructure to areas near the Yellow river.
Not surprisingly, there are groups inside and outside China that worry about how the south will be affected by this massive piece of engineering.
In an interview with the paper, Peter Bosshard of International Rivers said:
“Transferring water from the Yangtze tributaries to the thirsty plains of northern China may well lead to environmental collapse of the Han river, the Three Gorges reservoir, and the Yangtze delta. To resolve its water crisis, China needs to phase out thirsty industries and agricultural crops in the drought-prone north and replace them with more environmentally sound practices.”