About 15,000 people from the side of Fuxian Lake in southwest China's Yunnan Province are expected to be relocated as part of a campaign to save the famous beauty spot.
The government of Yuxi City started the project on Wednesday. In total, 1.19 million square meters of buildings will be demolished to return the area to wetland in three years.
The lake covers an area of 212 square km and is the third deepest fresh water lake in China, famous for its amazingly clear water.
Tourism development by the lake side, however, has stimulated fast population growth in the past decade. Excessive use of groundwater and waste discharge has been blamed for a significant drop of water level and deteriorating water quality.
A government spokesman said when people and businesses are relocated away from the lake, levels of pollutants like nitrates and phosphorus are expected to fall dramatically.
The government expects the rehabilitation will not only beautify the environment and clean the lake, but also upgrade local tourism. Eco-friendly tourism and high-end resort facilities will be encouraged in the future.