Shipping will be halted on a stretch of the Yangtze River for two months from April to prepare for the flooding of the Three Gorges Dam reservoir. The Ministry of Communications asked local governments and shipping companies to prepare for the disruption from April 10 to June 15, Xinhua reported. The Yangtze River is an economic lifeline for inland China. The reservoir will be filled in early June, bringing the water level to 135 metres, state media has reported. The level will reach 175 metres when the controversial flood-control and hydropower project is finished in 2009. Xinhua quoted the China Yangtze Three Gorges Project Development Corporation as saying that investment in the project had already reached 89.6 billion yuan (HK$84.2 billion) and would eventually hit 180 billion yuan. But opposition groups say the true investment is far higher because of greater-than-expected costs for the relocation of people displaced by the project. The government must move more than a million people as the rising waters submerge land once occupied by houses and factories. Tourists are flocking to the Three Gorges as travel agencies promote the last chance to see the area before it disappears. Under previously announced plans, builders will put a permanent ship lock into use in June and have six of 26 power generators in operation by the end of this year. The project will produce 84.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year. The third and final phase of construction is scheduled for 2004 to 2009, when the rest of the generators will be started up. The project's operator said earlier this month that it had invited foreign suppliers to bid for the generator contracts. The controversial nature of the project has scared off many foreign firms.