Aerial photo taken on June 29, 2020 shows the dam of the Wudongde Hydropower Station on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in southwest China. (Xinhua/Li Mengxin)

KUNMING, July 6 (Xinhua) -- A major hydropower project, with its first group of electricity-generation units put into operation in June, is benefiting local people while injecting vitality into the development of southwest China.

Located on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, the Wudongde Hydropower Station is currently the fourth biggest hydropower station in the country, with a total installed capacity of 10.2 million kilowatts and an annual power output capacity of 38.91 billion kilowatt-hours.

Aerial photo taken on June 29, 2020 shows water gushing out from a sluiceway of the Wudongde Hydropower Station on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in southwest China.  (Xinhua/Li Mengxin)

With construction beginning in December 2015, the station is on the Jinsha River, the upper stretches of the Yangtze, China's longest river.

The Jinrui Community, which is a few kilometers away from the power station, is the project's largest resettlement area in the county of Luquan in Yunnan, housing more than 3,700 people. All the residents have been relocated from the river valleys.

Tian Taixue and his family moved to a new house in the community in August last year.

"We used to live in a mud shack down the river valley at the foothill of the mountains, and transportation was not convenient at all," said Tian, 55. "But now we live in a three-story house, and a concrete road is right in front of the new house."

It was scorching down the valley, but here in the new house, it is cooler, he added.

"The relocation brought many changes, for the better, of course," Tian said.

The residential compound is equipped with public facilities such as a hospital, a school and a farm produce market.

"In the future, we plan to develop the resettlement area into a unique town integrating sightseeing, leisure and fruit-picking activities, using picturesque scenery along the reservoir and local ethnic culture," said Tian Wen, a local official.

Residents of the counties of Huidong and Huili, in Sichuan Province, have bid farewell to a life of prolonged drought after relocating from the river valleys.

"After relocation, we built new reservoirs and expanded existing ones, which now guarantee enough water for daily usage," said Deng Shouxiang, with the poverty-relief and development bureau of Sichuan's Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, which administers the counties.

Aerial photo taken on June 29, 2020 shows a view of the Wudongde Hydropower Station on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in southwest China.  (Xinhua/Hu Chao)

Infrastructure projects also kept up the pace, especially transportation, making it easier for locals to travel outside.

"In the past, local residents were scattered around, and they depended on self-sufficient, small-scale farming for a living. There were no big industries," Deng said. "Now, we have developed large-scale industries, which increased their income."

Deng added that authorities used relocation funds to offer skill-development training to locals to help them better adapt to the new environment.

Photo taken on June 29, 2020 shows water gushing out from a sluiceway of the Wudongde Hydropower Station on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in southwest China.  (Xinhua/Hu Chao)

The relocation program for the hydropower project had been completed by 2019, with 32,000 people moving to 24 resettlements.

"People now enjoy convenient transportation facilities, better education and medical services, and a more comfortable environment," said Yao Yuanjun, with the relocation program office of the China Three Gorges Corporation. "About 3,200 relocated people, previously registered as impoverished residents, have all cast off poverty."

During the construction of the Wudongde Hydropower Station, about 70,000 new jobs were added on average each year, official figures showed. After all electricity-generation units are put into operation in 2021, it will contribute about 11.9 billion yuan (1.68 billion U.S. dollars) of industrial added value each year, in addition to tax.

"The construction and the operation of the Wudongde Hydropower Station have provided powerful support for the development of the local economy and society," said Li Kaide, head of Luquan County. "I hope that with the help of the project, people will live much better lives."  ■

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