BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- China earmarked 53.87 billion yuan (7.9 billion U.S. dollars) for the country's huge south-to-north water diversion project as of the end of April, head of the project office Zhang Jiyao said Saturday.
The figure was 8.2 billion yuan more than the end-of-November figure of 45.67 billion yuan, the last time when such figure was announced.
China's South-to-North Water Diversion Project is designed to divert water from the water-rich south of the country, mainly the Yangtze, or the country's longest river, up to the dry north.
The earmarked money is from budgeted spending from the central government, at 15.42 billion yuan, special funds in treasury bonds from the central budget, at 10.65 billion yuan, funds of local governments, at 7.99 billion yuan, and loans, at 19.81 billion yuan.
Zhang said several key projects along the eastern route have been completed. The Danjiangkou Dam in central China's Hubei Province, the source of diverted water along the central route, is still under construction.
The huge water diversion project consists of eastern, central and western routes. The eastern and central routes are already under construction, while the western route, meant to replenish the Yellow River with water from the upper reaches of the Yangtze through tunnels in the high mountains of western China, is still at the planning stage.
China's State Council has allowed an investment of up to 254.6 billion yuan (about 37.2 billion U.S. dollars) for the phase-one projects along the eastern and middle routes.
Zhang said 30.48 billion yuan, part of the earmarked 53.87 billion yuan, had been spent, with 5.66 billion yuan on the eastern route and 24.82 billion yuan on the middle route.
A 225-kilometer canal linking Shijiazhuang City of Hebei Province to Beijing has started pumping water into the capital as of Sept. 28 to ease the city's water shortage.
The canal is designed to divert up to 300 million cubic meters of water annually. It has so far pumped 190 million cubic meters of water into Beijing as of May 6.
Construction on the eastern route began in December 2002, and on the central route in December 2003.
The eastern route is expected to be ready for water diversion to Jiangsu and Shandong provinces in 2013, and the central route would be ready to pump water into Beijing in 2014, according to latest estimation of the project office.