USSR to reverse rivers

The Soviet Union has decided to forge ahead with its plans to build a 1,550-mile canal, the government said Wednesday. The canal will take water from the Ob and Irtysh rivers in the north to the deserts of Central Asia. The project, referred to as ``reversing the rivers,'' was formally launched by then President Konstantin Chernenko last October. Estimated costs are in excess of $12 billion.

The plan is expected to more than double the amount of grain grown on irrigated land -- from nearly 25 million tons annually to almost 60 million -- by the year 2000.

Recurring bad grain harvests are the bane of the Soviet agricultural system, necessitating huge and politically embarrassing imports of fodder grains. -- 30 --

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