China to Divert Slush in Bid to Curb Sandstorms

China plans to divert melted snow water running down from Kunlun Mountain to irrigate arid lands as part of efforts to curb the incidence of sandstorms in western China.

It will take 10 years to complete the scheme at a cost of 70 million yuan (8.4 million US dollars).

Outlining details of the project, an official with the Mangya Administrative Committee in Qinghai Province said the melted glacial slush would be diverted from two rivers on the eastern and western sides of Kunlun Mountain to run small hydro-electric power projects. The water then would be channeled to irrigate shelter forests on 3,330 hectares of sandy lands and 2,130 hectares of oases and improve 6,000 hectares of grassland.

To date, some 10 million yuan (120,000 dollars) have been used to build canals, cultivate grass and plant trees in the Great Ouseand Aral regions. An additional 1,330 hectares of sandy fields along the Gasin Hure River will be planted with grass this year.

The move was vital for alleviating sandstorms in China, said Lu Guoxiang, director of the meteorological bureau at Mangya.

There are four major sources of sandstorms in the world - central Asia, North America, central Africa and Australia. Northwest China is part of the sandstorm center in central Asia. The amount of sandy lands in the region's Qinghai and Gansu provinces and southern part of Xinjiang exceeds 700,000 square kilometers.

According to meteorological reports from the Mangya area in Qinghai over the past four decades, windy weather at Mangya topped180 days annually and the maximum wind speed was 32 meters per second. Local factories were sometimes forced to stop normal operations and sheep got lost as a result of low visibility.



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