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China's 'saddest city' makes way for water diversion projectA city in China's water-rich Hubei province that has sacrificed much for China's grand south-north water diversion project, which has begun to supply water to China's arid north, has been called "the saddest city in China" by local officials, the news website thepaper.cn reported Tuesday.Despite its great contributions to the project, the city is still plagued with poverty. Many of its residents are moving their whole lives to make way for the project.Over the past five decades, the city experienced two large-scale migrations. The first came in 1958 when Danjiangkou Reservoir Dams were built and the 2,000 year old city of Junzhou was totally submerged in 1967. Then, in 2009, Junxian town, a town that housed immigrants from Junzhou and named in the memory of that ancient city, had to relocate all its residents again because the dam was raised leading to higher water levels.A city of reluctant migrantsNearly two years ago, the entire Junxian town was relocated to a new site six kilometers away, to make way for the south-north water diversion project.Ming Ruixiang, a 55-year-old resident, is an exception. She still lives in the original site of Junxian town due to relocation disputes.This is far from the first time Ming faced relocation. As early as 1966, the then 7-year-old Ming moved from her hometown near Junzhou Ancient City with her parents. The migration did not end there. Without knowing the ultimate water level of the Danjiangkou Reservoir, her family has fallen into a vicious cycle of moving to a new place, being submerged by water and moving again, until they finally settled down in the original site of Junxian town. She cannot remember how many times she moved. The only certainty is that all the moves took place in the jurisdiction of one city, Danjiangkou.Danjiangkou is the starting point of the middle route of south-north diversion project and its pride, Danjiangkou Reservoir, is the key water source of the project.Danjiangkou city has undergone two large-scale migrations. The first migration happened when Danjiangkou Reservoir Dams started construction in 1958 and about 160,000 residents moved. In 2005, Danjiangkou Reservoir Dams rose to 176.6 meters from 162 meters, submerging new areas. The second batch of up to 100,000 migrants were relocated after 2009.For most Danjiangkou residents, moving has become a part of life due to the water diversion project. He Shengyou, a villager, relocated as many as six times, said Chen Huaping, deputy head of the information office of Danjiangkou city government.On Nov 18, 1967, Danjiangkou Reservoir started to store water. Though unwilling to move, the next morning He Shengyou saw his house submerged by rising water and "many snakes and rats climbed to the rooftop of his house" to escape the flood.An ancient city sleeps underwaterIn the winter of 1965, the then 11-year-old Ding Lixian was brought by his father to see Danjiangkou Reservoir Dams under construction. Taking a boat upstream, Ding saw half of the demolished ancient city walls without a single soul in it.It is the first time and the last time for Ding to see Junzhou Ancient City before it was submerged. On the way, Ding's father kept silent. It was not till several years later that Ding understood his father's silence.On the water storage day in 1967, the 2,000-year-old Junzhou Ancient City was submerged by the flood.Junzhou Ancient City was the birthplace of Taoism. In the early years of the Ming dynasty (1368 AD-1644 AD), Emperor Zhu Di built a royal Taoist temple on Wudang Mountain nearby and Jingle Palace in the city with high walls around. Jingle Palace, the most famous of the eight Taoist palaces in China, had an area of 50,000 square meters, taking up half of the ancient city and the walls were estimated to be 3.5 kilometers long.In 1958, residents of Junzhou city started to move due to the construction of the Danjiangkou Reservoir Dams. Half of the ancient walls were torn down. For Jingle Palace, only a pair of stone turtles and a memorial archway were removed to the new city and the rest was abandoned.Only the name of Junxian town, named in honor of the old city, serves as a reminder of the ancient city slumbering underwater.Traditional industry shut downA large number of polluted factories have been shut down with little left to protect the quality of water in Danjiangkou Reservoir since 2000, said Wei Qingjiu, deputy director of the Danjiangkou environmental protection bureau.Moreover, to ensure water safety, net cage fish farming will be prohibited by the end of 2015.Net cage fish farming is one of the staple industries in the Danjiangkou Reservoir area. According to official statistics, there are 120,000 cages of fish valued at 680 million yuan ($110 million) in the city this year.Jiang Decheng, a fish farmer, was born in a fishing family. He started net cage fish farming over 10 years ago and has 100 cages of fish.Every year, Jiang feeds fish with hundreds of tons of fodder and delivers medicine to the fish for disease prevention.Since water flows faster in the Reservoir, he has had to "deliver medicine to net cage fish as much as ten times more than fish farmed in a pond", said Jiang.Water pollution caused by fish fodder and medicine has led authorities to shut down the industry.As Wei Qingjiu said, to supply northern regions with clean water, "we sacrificed our most traditional industry".Danjiangkou sacrificed its own development to support the south-north water diversion project. It is still classified as a "national-level poverty-stricken county".
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