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BEIJING, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- The first phase of the eastern route of China's south-north water diversion project is expected to be completed ahead of schedule, authorities said.

With the main part of the first-stage construction to be finished in March, the project will be able to send water in the third quarter of 2013, three months earlier than planned, the South-to-North Water Diversion Office under the State Council said.

By the end of November, about 28.53 billion yuan (4.54 billion U.S. dollars) had been invested in the route's first-stage construction, accounting for 93 percent of the planned investment.

The south-north project, the world's largest of its kind, is designed to take water from China's longest river, the Yangtze, through an eastern, a middle and a western route, to feed excessively dry areas in the north, including Beijing.

The project started with the construction of the eastern route in 2002 and the middle route in 2003, with the western route at the pre-construction stage. The middle route's first phase is expected to start supplying water in 2014.

The major parts of the eastern route are located in the provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong.


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