New highways leading into the industrial district of Lanzhou. Since 1949, Lanzhou, once a former Silk Road trading post, has morphed from the capital of a poverty-stricken province into the heart of a major industrial area. It is the centre of the country‚Äôs petrochemical industry and is a key regional transport hub between eastern and western China. In recent years the city has continued to grow increasing the burden on the river ‚Ä" heavy industry and the pressures of urbanisation have all taken a toll. Growing cities require more power, which means burning more coal and city dwellers use five times more water than their rural cousins.