Warding off danger of flood
Measures focus on boosting water conservancy to protect ecology, people’s livelihoods in vulnerable areas
China will accelerate efforts to repair flood-damaged water conservancy projects and help cities fight flooding in steps that will also boost investment and create more employment opportunities.
The decision, made at a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday, targets improving the country’s ecology and people’s livelihoods in areas vulnerable to flooding, especially along the Yangtze, Huaihe and Yellow rivers, according to a statement released after the meeting.
The statement also said embankments along the Yangtze River damaged during this year’s flood season will be renovated promptly, well ahead of next year’s flood season, which usually starts in June and lasts until August. The central government also called for better management of smaller rivers and reservoirs, which experts cite as a vital measure for flood control of major rivers.
The meeting also called on governments at all levels to build a more effective underground drainage system and pipeline corridors that can tackle problems created by flooding within city boundaries.
In addition, the meeting decided to boost public-private partnership initiatives to encourage private businesses to participate in the projects and the central government will grant favorable funding policies. Officials in charge of the projects will be accountable and traced should the need to impose penalties arise in case of damage or liability resulting from inadequate supervision or projects under- taken not meeting certain standards.
The meeting was the latest move by the central government as the premier and State Council have prioritized floodcontrol measures and water conservancy, particularly for provinces prone to such occurrences, such as Hunan, Hubei and Anhui. The country has endeavored to control floods along major rivers, with most of the focus on water conservancy and flood control projects along the Yangtze, Huaihe and Yellow rivers.
This year saw unprecedented flooding across the country, the worst in 18 years, which led to billions of yuan in direct economic losses and the loss of life.
Meanwhile, urban drainage systems have lagged far behind the rapid growth of urban areas. The deluge in Beijing four years ago saw the city’s drainage system overwhelmed.
In early July, the premier visited flood-hit cities in Hubei, Anhui and Hunan provinces to check flood control and disaster-prevention facilities, stressing the importance of such facilities in preventing excessive flooding and urging local governments to continue keeping a close eye on both small- and large-scale facilities.
In late July, the premier chaired a teleconference on flood-control measures in Beijing and again urged local governments to prevent potential danger and damage to properties and ensure people’s safety.
One month later, the premier called on workers to build a facility that has the ability to tackle the worst flood in a century when he visited Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi province, an area that has China’s largest fresh-water lake -Poyang Lake.
Li’s proposals are in line with expert opinion. Peng Shizhang, a professor on water conservancy at Hohai University in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, said China is a country vulnerable to floods and drought in different seasons and areas.
Projects on major rivers, such as the Yangtze, are meant to prevent flooding that damages cities and causes casualties. Meanwhile, small rivers and urban areas should also be put under the spotlight as these are areas where most people live and are vital to China’s food security, Peng said.
The function of small rivers in flood control is similar to that of capillary vessels in a human body, said Wang Congxing, a flood-control official in Hefei, capital of Anhui province. The government has spent huge amounts of money on large projects and now it’s time to shift focus to smallerscale ones, Wang said.
These projects will provide more opportunities for migrant workers and private businesses by boosting investment as a way to support the national economy, Wang said.
“The decision will see positive effects, once appropriately carried out,’’ Peng added.