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Archive for the ‘dam’ Category

Tibetans Villagers Block Work on Dam Near Sacred Mountain

Posted by Author on September 30, 2010


Radio Free Asia, 2010-09-30 –

Local Tibetans have challenged Chinese work crews trying to build a dam near a mountain considered sacred by area residents, according to Tibetan sources.

The mountain, called Lhachen Naglha Dzambha, rises in Driru [in Chinese, Biru] county in the Nagchu Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), a native of the region now living in exile said.

“The Gyalmo Ngulchu [Salween] river runs through the foothills of this sacred mountain,” the source said.

“Sometime in August this year, a large number of Chinese workers arrived in the area. Local Tibetans were told they were building a dam.”

Representatives from each village in the county then gathered at the site to protest the construction, another Tibetan living in exile said, citing sources in the region.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in China, Culture, dam, Life, News, People, Religion, Social, SW China, Tibet, Tibetan, World, Xizang | Comments Off on Tibetans Villagers Block Work on Dam Near Sacred Mountain

Author Released After 29 Days Detention for His Book About Dam Migration

Posted by Author on September 20, 2010


Reporters Without Borders, Sep. 20, 2010 –

Reporters Without Borders hails investigative journalist Xie Chaoping’s release on bail in Weinan (in Shaanxi province) on 17 September for lack of evidence. After being held for 29 days for writing a book about the Sanmenxia Dam entitled “The Great Migration,” he has been able to return to Beijing.

“Xie’s release is excellent news but now he must he now be quickly cleared of the charges of illegal commercial activity that the Weinan authorities brought against him,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call for the release of the printer who was also accused of illegal commercial activity for printing his book. It is still not known what has happened to him.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Central China, China, dam, Environment, Law, Life, News, People, Politics, Shanxi, Social, World, writer | Comments Off on Author Released After 29 Days Detention for His Book About Dam Migration

Hydropower Plant May Have Triggered Deadly Landslide in Southwest China, says Expert

Posted by Author on June 20, 2010


NTD TV –

On Tuesday at around 1:30 in the morning, part of a mountain collapsed in Kangding County in China’s southwestern Sichuan province. It killed 23 workers at a hydroelectric project construction site.

State media Xinhua reports that recent heavy rains triggered the landslide. But local geological expert Fan Xiao believes there may be another cause.

[Fan Xiao, Sichuan Geological and Mineral Bureau]:
“It’s mainly because of large scale work in recent years to construct the hydroelectric plant. Along the Dadu River there are over 20 hydropower stations which are all undergoing large-scale work… this has damaged the stability of the mountainsides, leading to mudslides when it rains. And digging also damages the stability of the mountain body, so eventually this creates a large scale mountain collapse.”

The part of the mountain that collapsed on Tuesday reached nearly 1.5 million cubic feet. It crushed a shed where construction workers slept, and temporarily blocked the water flow at a tributary of the Dadu River.

Fan Xiao, who is the chief engineer of the Regional Geology Investigation Team of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau, says hydropower construction in the region also poses other risks.

[Fan Xiao, Sichuan Geological and Mineral Bureau]:
“Many hydropower plants along the Dadu River are very large in scale. They have very tall dams that store a large amount of water. Coincidentally, the river is along an earthquake belt, and chances of these dams triggering an earthquake are very high too.”

In recent years, the Chinese regime has undertaken numerous hydropower projects to supply growing demands for electricity.

After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake Fan, and other experts, urged the suspension of new hydropower plants and a reassessment of geological risks posed by large-scale dams in the area.

NTD TV

Posted in China, dam, disaster, Environment, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on Hydropower Plant May Have Triggered Deadly Landslide in Southwest China, says Expert

China’s Three Gorges Dam Causes Quakes, Landslides and Cracks

Posted by Author on May 31, 2010


Michael Sheridan and Richard Jones, The Times, May 30, 2010 –

The Three Gorges dam
was so vast and sweeping a vision that nothing could stand in its way. Not the old cities of the Yangtze valley, storehouses of human toil and treasure for more than a thousand years. Not the lush, low-lying farmlands, nor the villages, nor even the pagodas and temples that graced the riverbanks.

The cries of dissenting scientists and the lamentations of more than a million Chinese people forced to leave their ancestral lands counted for nothing.

When the waters rose to 570ft last year, drowning all these things, it marked a triumph for the engineers at the top of the Chinese Communist party.

But in the past six months a sinister trail of events has unfolded from the dam all the way up the 410-mile reservoir to the metropolis of Chongqing.

It began with strange, small-scale earthquakes recorded by official monitoring stations and reported by the Chinese media.

Mysterious cracks split roads and sundered schoolhouses and apartments in newly built towns and villages on the bluffs looking down on the river.

The local government now says that 300,000 people will have to move out in addition to the 1.4m evicted to make way for the dam.

More than 50,000 residents have already been relocated owing to seismic problems that were not foreseen when the dam was built, according to the state news agency, Xinhua.

As the boats sail by, landslides can be seen from the river — some small, some big — staining the waters of the Yangtze with minerals and sediment.

Big pleasure cruisers, tramp steamers and shoals of sampans plough through waters that switch from hue to hue as their chemical composition changes.

In Badong county, midway through the Three Gorges, celebrated in Chinese painting and poetry, the citizens are troubled by a sense of foreboding.

The local government hastily moved out of a prestigious new block after experts warned that it was unsafe.

But ordinary folk and even schoolchildren have been left to fend for themselves. More than 3,000 children attend school every day in a building dating back to 1943 that officials know to be at risk of collapse. Nothing has been done to move them, supposedly because of a lack of funds.

The playground is riddled with cracks. One ominous jagged line runs down the side of the classrooms.

“The government agrees that our whole school must move,” said a worried teacher, who asked not to be named, “but so far it’s just talk.”

In a telling example of China’s glaring class differences, a group of unemployed workers live in housing provided by the state that is visibly cracking at the seams.

“What kind of dogshit government moves itself out and moves us into somewhere like this?” one of them complained.

“My house is like a fishing pond whenever it rains,” said Grandma Wang, 72. “I don’t mind for myself because I am old, but I care for my granddaughter, who is 10 and has to live in here.”

Badong is one of many places where the land and the water have interacted in ways that only a few scientists predicted before the dam was built. Their objections were overruled by the party.

But last week even the state media acknowledged that the Three Gorges area faced a “grim” situation. Officials have counted 97 significant landslides this year alone. These are linked to the worrying increase in seismic activity. ….. (more details from The Times)

Posted in China, Chongqing, dam, disaster, Environment, Life, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, SW China, Three Gorges, World | 1 Comment »

China’s Massive Dam Proposed in Tibet Yarlung Tsangpo River Could Spark Water Supply Conflict in Downstream Nations

Posted by Author on May 25, 2010


Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent, guardian.co.uk, 24 May 2010 –

Chinese hydropower lobbyists are calling for construction of the world’s biggest hydro-electric project on the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra river as part of a huge expansion of renewable power in the Himalayas.

Zhang Boting, the deputy general secretary of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering, told the Guardian that a massive dam on the great bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo – the Tibetan name for the river – would benefit the world, despite the likely concerns of downstream nations, India and Bangladesh, which access water and power from the river.

Zhang said research had been carried out on the project, but no plan has been drawn up. But documents on the website of a government agency suggest a 38 gigawatt hydropower plant is under consideration that would be more than half as big again as the Three Gorges dam, with a capacity nearly half as large as the UK’s national grid.

“This dam could save 200m tonnes of carbon each year. We should not waste the opportunity of the biggest carbon emission reduction project. For the sake of the entire world, all the water resources than can be developed should be developed.” That CO2 saving would be over a third of the UK’s entire emissions.

The mega-facility is among more than 28 dams on the river that are either planned, completed or under discussion by China, according to Tashi Tsering, a Tibetan scholar of environmental policy at the University of British Columbia……. (more details from The Guardian)

Posted in Asia, China, dam, Energy, Environment, Life, News, River, Technology, World | Comments Off on China’s Massive Dam Proposed in Tibet Yarlung Tsangpo River Could Spark Water Supply Conflict in Downstream Nations

Forced Evictions Over Dam in Southwestern China

Posted by Author on April 26, 2010


Radio Free Asia, 2010-04-26 –

HONG KONG
— Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan have begun demolishing houses and forcing people from their homes near the Pubugou hydroelectic power project, which is due to go into operation soon.

“They are forcibly demolishing houses,” a resident of Hanyuan county, where the evictions took place, said.

“They all came together in the night. The armed police, the regular police, the county Party secretary and officials,” said the resident, surnamed Cao.

The controversial Pubugou project, a series of ladder-like dams on Sichuan’s mountainous Dadu river, has sparked protests and armed confrontation in the past, with the army moving into the area to quell angry protests in 2004.

A total of 100,000 people will eventually be displaced by the project, which is part of Beijing’s key infrastructure investment program aimed at boosting economic growth and relieving poverty in China’s lagging western regions.

Villagers have kept up an angry and vocal protest, but according to a company announcement, the third phase of the Dadu project at Pubugou is scheduled to begin operation any day now.

‘Dead of night’

“By about 10 p.m. there were a few hundred [residents] surrounded by them,” Hanyuan resident Cao said.

“The Chinese Communist Party is supposed to be stout-hearted and honest. How come they are doing things in the dead of night?”

He said the demolition work went on until around 5 a.m. Sunday.

“They demolished one house,” Cao said.

“They were at work until dawn. They said it had to be demolished.”

He said the evicted family had nowhere else to go, and were now living in a tent on the mountainside.

A second Hanyuan resident surnamed Bai said the government was behaving unreasonably.

“They don’t listen to reason and they don’t even follow their own policies,” Bai said.

After the last violent standoff in 2004, the central government ordered more compensation for relocating residents from 320 yuan (U.S. $38) per square meter of living space to 428 yuan (U.S. $51), according to local media reports.( Radio Free Asia)

Posted in China, corruption, dam, Economy, Environment, Forced Evictions, housing, Life, News, Official, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, World | 1 Comment »

China dam plans raise Mekong fears

Posted by Author on April 1, 2010


By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing and Tim Johnston in Bangkok, The Financial Times, Apr. 1, 2010-

China will ramp up construction of dams, reservoirs and wells in response to a severe drought in the country’s south-west, but the move is likely to raise tensions with downstream countries, which have already blamed reduced river flows on Beijing.

Most of south-west China has been affected by the drought, which began in November and has left more than 24m people without adequate access to drinking water. Downstream in Thailand, cargo boats have been stranded along the banks of the Mekong, which is at its lowest level in half a century, while fishermen complain of empty nets.

Beijing has launched emergency drought relief operations involving 260,000 soldiers and officials yesterday said this force had drilled 18,000 wells, built 4,307 emergency water diversion works and laid 20,000 kilometres of pipeline.

“We must prepare ourselves to fight a long war against this severe drought,” said Liu Ning, secretary-general of China’s State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. “With so many government departments working in synergy, we will surely triumph in our battle,” he said, while forecasting the drought would last until mid-May.

The south-western province of Yunnan, which has been hit hardest by the drought, has allocated Rmb27bn ($4bn, €2.9bn, £2.6bn) to build reservoirs and dams, officials said.

China’s water management policies have come in for criticism from the countries of the Mekong basin, where 60m people are directly or indirectly dependent on the river.

“We can see the level of the water is getting lower,” Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Thai prime minister, said this month. “We will ask the foreign ministry to talk with a representative from China in terms of co-operation and in terms of management systems in the region.”

The Mekong River Commission, which includes Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, will meet this weekend to discuss the water shortage and future developments along the river……. (Financial Times)

Posted in Asia, China, dam, Environment, Life, Mekong, News, River, SW China, World, Yunnan | Comments Off on China dam plans raise Mekong fears

China’s Three Gorges Dam ‘a model for disaster’

Posted by Author on October 31, 2009


The Ecologist, 30th October, 2009 –

International Rivers has highlighted the environmental damage caused by the world’s biggest hydropower project amid concern about plans for two new dams in China

China’s Yangtze River hydropower project has been a ‘model for disaster’, according to a river protection charity, which is concerned about new proposals for similar projects.

The Three Gorges Dam, whose reservoir is due to reach its final height of 175 metres over the next few weeks, will be able to produce enough electricity to meet close to one tenth of China’s current electricity demands.

However, Rivers International say the Dam has driven fish species to extinction, caused frequent toxic algae blooms and is subjecting the area to erosion and frequent landslides.

Future warnings

The group says that the environment impacts of the dam are likely to worsen with time.

‘The submergence of hundreds of factories, mines and waste dumps and the presence of massive industrial centers upstream are creating a festering bog of effluent, silt, industrial pollutants and rubbish in the reservoir,’ the report’s authors write.

Policy director Peter Bosshard said the Chinese government was attempting to replicate the model of the dam. More hydropower proposals have been put forward for the Lancang (Upper Mekong) and Nu (Salween) Rivers.

‘The Three Gorges Dam is a model of the past,’ he said. ‘Its impacts need to be independently evaluated before more dams are being built on the Yangtze River. There are smarter ways of generating energy and managing floods than by building outdated mega-projects.’

The Ecologist

Posted in China, dam, disaster, Environment, News, Three Gorges, World | Comments Off on China’s Three Gorges Dam ‘a model for disaster’

China earthquake toll could above 50,000, hundreds of reservoirs in danger

Posted by Author on May 15, 2008


AFP, May 15, 2008-

YINGXIU, China (AFP) — China said Thursday that over 50,000 people had likely died in the devastating earthquake that hit its southwest as time runs out to save survivors buried in the rubble of broken communities.

Experts said the search-and-rescue operation was entering its most crucial phase yet four days after the 7.9-magnitude quake struck, with the chances of finding survivors diminishing by the hour.

“The deaths are estimated to be over 50,000,” state television said, citing figures from the national quake relief headquarters.

The epic scale of Monday’s quake is becoming clearer as teams hike into the remote epicentre in Sichuan province, where whole towns were levelled.

“If there are some survivors under such conditions, it would be a matter of luck, or a miracle,” said Zhang Zhoushu, vice director of the state-run China Earthquake Disaster Prevention Centre.

Yet amidst the tragedy , miracles did occur.

In Yingxiu, a town at the epicentre, rescue workers pulled an 11-year-old girl out of the rubble 68 hours after the quake demolished her school, an AFP reporter who made it into the stricken community witnessed.

Rescuers were sifting through the debris when they heard a voice.

“It’s wonderful, she’s alive!” a delighted onlooker shouted as the girl was pulled out on a stretcher and given a small cup of water.

China has rebuffed most foreign offers to send rescuers, but said Thursday it would accept a Japanese team flying in with sniffer dogs.

“Most people are saved in the first three or four days,” Willie McMartin, director of the British-based charity International Rescue Corps, told AFP in Hong Kong where his team is trying to get permission to enter China.

“People can survive up to 15 days, but that is when you are talking about miracles, and miracles do not happen very often.”

Sichuan officials upped the confirmed death toll there to more than 19,500, but several tens of thousands more are missing or entombed in debris.

As the military ramped up its rescue efforts with more troops and aircraft, a new threat emerged from creaking dams and reservoirs shaken by the quake.

State-run television said authorities had found “dangerous situations” at more than 400 reservoirs — two of them major — across five provinces.

Underlining the desperate efforts, China launched a mass public appeal for thousands of shovels, hammers and cranes, saying some rescuers were having to shift huge concrete slabs by hand to get to survivors……. (more details from AFP: China says quake toll likely above 50,000)

Posted in China, dam, disaster, earthquake, Environment, Life, News, People, Politics, Sichuan, Social, SW China, World | Comments Off on China earthquake toll could above 50,000, hundreds of reservoirs in danger

China’s Longest River at Lowest in 142 Years

Posted by Author on January 19, 2008


Reuters, Jan 17, 2008-

BEIJING, Jan 17 (Reuters) – China’s longest river, the Yangtze, is suffering from a severe drought this year with water levels in some areas falling to the lowest in 142 years, state media said on Thursday.

China is suffering its worst drought in a decade, which has left millions of people short of drinking water and has shrunk reservoirs and rivers.

Hardest hit are large swathes of the usually humid south, where water levels on several major rivers have plunged to historic lows in recent months.

On Jan. 8, the Yangtze water level at Hankou plunged to 13.98 metres (46 ft), the lowest since records began in 1866, the China Daily said on Thursday, quoting the Wuhan-based Changjiang Times.

“This year’s drought is rare,” Li Changmin, a farmer from central Hubei province, was quoted as saying. “Just days ago, I saw ship after ship running aground. I have never seen that before.”

Since October, more than 40 ships have run aground in the main course of the Yangtze, the world’s third longest river which stretches 6,300 km (3,900 miles) from west to east, the traditional dividing line between north and south China.

This year’s dry season came a month earlier than usual and water levels fell sooner than expected, an official was quoted as saying.

“Also, large amounts of water were stored at the Three Gorges Dam last month, which caused the flow volume in the river to fall 50 percent. But the Yangtze River Water Resource Commission said the drought has nothing to do with the dam,” the China Daily said.

The Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project, is an engineering feat that seeks to tame the Yangtze.

Backers say the dam will end devastating floods downstream and generate clean electricity. Critics call it a reckless folly that has brought wrenching dislocation for many people.

Drought and floods are perennial problems in China but meteorologists have complained about the increased extreme weather, pointing to global climate change as a culprit.

Original report from Reuters

Posted in Central China, China, dam, disaster, Drought, Environment, Hubei, Life, News, River, Three Gorges, transport, water, World, Wuhan, Yangtze river | Comments Off on China’s Longest River at Lowest in 142 Years

Residents fear China’s Three Gorges Dam

Posted by Author on November 28, 2007


MAOPING, China (AFP) — Several times this year, Tan Mingzhu had the terrible feeling her home in central China was about to collapse in on her family.

Frightening tremors rocked their simple concrete dwelling four kilometres (2.5 miles) from China’s mammoth Three Gorges Dam, ripping floor-to-ceiling cracks in the walls, and she doesn’t hesitate in assigning blame.

“It’s because of the dam. This started when the dam went into operation (last year),” said Tan, 36, a mother of one.

The fissures in Tan’s home are among mounting examples of the potentially disastrous impacts of the Yangtze river project, China’s biggest public works undertaking since the Great Wall and the world’s biggest hydropower project.

Built mainly for flood control and hydropower, the giant concrete wall built across China’s longest river has been blamed for a host of worsening environmental ills to go with longstanding concerns about the 1.4 million people uprooted so far to make way for the reservoir’s rising waters.

“An extraordinary amount of damage has been done, not only to property but to the irreplaceable network of human and economic relations that made up the region,” said Patricia Adams, executive director of Toronto-based Probe International, which chronicles the dam’s problems.

Government officials and scientists caused a stir in September when they told a conference that the project could lead to an “environmental catastrophe,” with the comments carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

The conference was told that the huge weight of the water behind the dam had started to erode the Yangtze river’s banks in many places, which, together with frequent fluctuations in water levels, had triggered a series of landslides.

Officials said shortly afterwards another four million people in the area would have to be relocated from around the dam.

After those revelations caused global headlines, the government has run a strong media campaign to say there are no major problems and the extra relocations are not related to the dam.

The head of the office in charge of constructing the dam, Wang Xiaofeng, was among the officials to warn of the dangers in September, but he was brought to Beijing to brief reporters on Tuesday and downplay the concerns.

“Regarding the Three Gorges project’s impact on the ecological environment, the benefits outweigh the negative consequences,” Wang said at the press conference, organised by the central government.

But critics and people living in the region remain fearful.

One of the biggest emerging concerns is that the reservoir’s seasonal water fluctuations have unsettled the delicate geology of the area, raising landslide and other seismic dangers.

“This is a geologically risky area and the dam definitely increases those risks,” Chen Guojie, a geologist at the Institute of Mountain Hazards in Chengdu, told AFP.

Residents of Maoping, in Hubei province, such as Zhou Gonghui, whose concrete house on a steep slope regularly groans and cracks, live in daily fear of those dangers.

Many like him were resettled here by the government in the 1990s from now-submerged zones. He wants to leave out of safety but lacks the money and says the government has been unresponsive.

“Of course, we are scared. but we’re just commoners. What can we do?” asked Zhou, 48.

Another longstanding concern frequently raised is that the dam will prevent the river from flushing the billions of tonnes of pollution dumped into it each year.

Despite the problems, and driven by a desire to lessen the country’s heavy reliance on highly polluting coal, new hydroelectric dams are being built at a furious pace.

Nearly three dozen are being built or planned for the upper reaches of the Yantze alone.

Just this week, construction began on the Xiangjiaba project in southwestern Sichuan province, which will have a third of the energy generating capacity of the Three Gorges Dam.

Original report from AFP

Posted in China, dam, Environment, housing, Life, News, People, River, Rural, Social, Three Gorges, World, Yangtze river | 1 Comment »

China dam collapsed, 2 villages destroied by torrent

Posted by Author on November 27, 2007


BEIJING, Nov 25 (Reuters) – A dam collapse in northeast China sent a torrent of mud and debris into two nearby villages, killing six and leaving another seven missing, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

The collapse of the dam, holding back waste from iron ore production, in Liaoning province’s Shiqiaozi village injured another 17, all of whom were in a stable condition.

Rescuers were searching for the missing as 10 bulldozers cleared mud and ore.

An 80-metre wide river of debris spilled across fields and into two low-lying villages, destroying cropland and 33 houses.

“The priority of our work is to look for the missing and resettle the homeless,” Xinhua quoted Yang Jinfang, head of the publicity department in the nearby city of Anshan, as saying.

The dam, which Xinhua said belonged to the Dingyang Mining Co. Ltd, an iron ore producer, was supposed to be used to contain waste ore, but over the years there had been a buildup of water.

Authorities had sent inspectors to check four similar dams in the area, the report said.

China is frequently beset by industrial and environmental disasters.

Last week, 31 people were crushed in a landslide in central China, most of them trapped in a long-distance bus that was buried under an avalanche of boulders, earth and mud at the entrance to a railway tunnel being built near the site of the Three Gorges Dam. (Reporting by Lindsay Beck)

– Original report from Reuters : China dam collapse kills six, seven missing

Posted in China, corruption, dam, disaster, Environment, Incident, Liaoning, NE China, News, Social, World | Comments Off on China dam collapsed, 2 villages destroied by torrent

Crushed Bus Lifts China Three Gorges Dam Area Landslide Deaths to More Than 30

Posted by Author on November 23, 2007


By Chris Buckley, Reuters, Nov 23, 2007-

BEIJING, Nov 23 (Reuters) – The death toll from a landslide near China’s massive Three Gorges Dam soared on Friday when state media revealed the collapse had crushed a bus, killing about 30 people.

The bus was found three days after Tuesday’s landslide. Early reports from the Xinhua news agency had put casualties at the railway tunnel construction site at one worker killed, one injured and two missing.

The latest report from the scene in Badong county, Hubei province, said a road near the rail site had also been buried under rocks and earth.

Rescuers said there were no signs of life on the bus, a long-distance coach from Shanghai crowded with returning migrant workers. Just how many died remains unclear.

Records taken at a checkpoint close to the accident showed it had been carrying 27 people, but did not make clear whether that included or excluded three staff recorded when the bus left Shanghai, said Zeng Bing, a Badong government official.

The victims included a four-month-old boy and his 20-year-old mother, according to a local government Web site.

“We’ve starting digging out the bus, but the chances of survivors are really, really dim,” said Zeng. “It’s been too long, and the bus was totally crushed.”

A manager from the Lichuan Lida Bus Company told Reuters that officials had been alerted to the missing bus only after relatives and the company contacted them with their worries.

The landslide struck near a tributary of the 660-km (410-mile) Three Gorges Dam reservoir, sending down 1,000 cubic metres of rocks and mud and scaffolding, according to a report on the Badong official Web site (www.cjbd.com.cn).

The disaster appeared to be the latest warning of geological threats around the dam. Reports have not speculated on whether the slide could be linked to the dam’s rising waters, which are due to peak at 175 metres (574 feet) above sea level next year.

Badong is one of the steep areas along the reservoir that locals recently told Reuters have seen more landslides and tremors since the water level rose last year, increasing pressure on brittle slopes.

In September, dam officials warned of potential “environmental catastrophe” unless erosion and geological instability around the reservoir were controlled — an abrupt departure from bright propaganda about the world’s biggest dam.

Since then they have repeatedly said those threats are being dealt with and the dam’s environment is better than expected.

“There have been no injuries or deaths” due to dam-related landslides, Tong Chongde, a spokesman for the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee, told a small news briefing on Thursday. Phone calls to Tong on Friday went unanswered.

In the rainy summer of 2007, landslides across the dam area killed at least 13, according to local news reports and the dam’s own environmental agency.

Rescuers used explosives to shatter boulders blocking access to the crushed bus, the Badong government said.

The provincial government said grieving families would be cared for and it ordered officials to “protect social stability”, the Badong government report said. (Additional reporting by Guo Shipeng, editing by Nick Macfie and Roger Crabb)

– Original report from Reuters : Crushed bus lifts China dam area landslide deaths

Posted in Central China, China, dam, Environment, Hubei, Incident, Life, News, Three Gorges, transport, World | Comments Off on Crushed Bus Lifts China Three Gorges Dam Area Landslide Deaths to More Than 30

Millions bewildered and scared as world’s largest dam takes shape in China

Posted by Author on November 20, 2007


The Sydney Morning Herald, November 18, 2007-

China stands almost alone in wielding the wealth and will to conjure vast engineering efforts to alter the flow of rivers and the lives of millions. But many of its people are bewildered and frightened as the world’s largest dam takes shape, writes Chris Buckley

In a precarious apartment overlooking the Yangtze River, Xu Faxiu and her sick husband are holding out as the Government wrenches more than 1.4million people from their homes to make way for the vast Three Gorges Dam.

Whole towns and villages have been resettled to higher slopes or distant provinces as the water rises – an exodus that has brought protests of official corruption and inadequate compensation from displaced people, many of them poor farmers.

Before the waters peak at 175metres next year, Xu, 51, and her husband, Chen Kaishen, must abandon “old Badong”, a steep maze of rotting concrete blocks and half-demolished residences.

They are not ready to go. To stay, however, could mean death.

“This place could collapse, I know, but where do we go?” Xu says from her temporary home on the fifth floor of a largely abandoned apartment building.

She and her husband – rendered mute by two strokes – moved in when their old house, further down the slopes, was threatened as authorities began to lift the dam level.

“Everyone here will have to move out soon. I don’t know where we’ll go,” she says. “Complaining is useless. When you’re poor nobody listens.”

Xu and Chen’s story is a small drama illuminating the hardships and tensions the Three Gorges Dam has brought central China’s Hubei province – where Badong lies – and neighbouring Chongqing municipality.

The dam is an engineering feat of staggering proportions which seeks to tame the world’s third-longest river.

The 6300-kilometre Yangtze, which rises on the Tibetan plateau, flows through the towering Three Gorges to irrigate, and often flood, much of the country’s central and eastern plains……. ( more details from the The Sydney Morning Herald)

Posted in China, Chongqing, dam, Environment, housing, Life, News, People, River, Rural, Social, SW China, Three Gorges, World, Yangtze river | Comments Off on Millions bewildered and scared as world’s largest dam takes shape in China

The Dam Breaks– China can no longer deny the environmental disaster at Three Gorges

Posted by Author on October 29, 2007


Editorials, Washington Post, October 15, 2007-

FOR CHINA’S communist leadership, which gathers today for a major party congress, the gigantic Three Gorges Dam holds out the promise of abundant hydroelectric power and an end to devastating periodic floods along the Yangtze River. Yet from the moment they hatched a plan to build the colossal project, China’s leaders have known that its benefits would come at a high environmental cost. Undeterred, they ignored or repressed dissent about it. One prominent early critic, journalist Dai Qing, was jailed for 10 months after the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 1989; her book “Yangtze! Yangtze!” was suppressed. Even then, the threats posed by the $22 billion project in Hubei province were so evident that one-third of the delegates to China’s rubber-stamp national legislature either abstained or voted against it in 1993. Undaunted, the government began construction in 1994 and has relocated 1.4 million mostly poor rural villagers to make way for a 370-mile-long, 525-foot-deep reservoir. The dam’s first stage opened in 2003, permitting cargo vessels to travel from Shanghai to Chongqing; eventually, its turbines are supposed to generate 84 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.

As recently as 2004, the official China Daily was still emitting happy talk about “achievements in environmental protection of the area.” But now comes word that the warnings of Dai Qing and others were true. And the source of the news is none other than the Chinese government. In fact, a “catastrophe” is possible if preventive steps are not taken promptly, the official Xinhua news agency said last week. Apparently, thickly populated river banks near Chongqing have been weakened by the project, and landslides — including one June 28 that killed four people — are a frequent occurrence. The new reservoir’s shoreline is collapsing in 91 places. In addition, the Yangtze is silting up because of the reduced flow of water, and pollutants are accumulating behind the dam — exactly as critics had predicted.

The authorities in China have a plan, of course: They will relocate 4 million more people over the next 10 to 15 years. This additional movement of people will have immense direct costs — financial and human — and will exacerbate serious land shortages and urban crowding in Chongqing and its surroundings. Chongqing is already one of the most congested and polluted cities in China. We suppose it’s good news that China’s leaders, consistent with a recent increase in official candor about the country’s environmental woes, are finally facing the facts about Three Gorges. But for many years to come, the dam will stand as a monument to their folly and their arrogance.

Original report from Washington Post

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China’s Three Gorges Dam Under Fire

Posted by Author on October 14, 2007


By LIN YANG, the Times, UK, Friday, Oct. 12, 2007-

The giant Three Gorges Dam across China’s Yangtze river has been mired in controversy ever since it was first proposed 88 years ago by Sun Yat Sen, the founding father of Modern China. In 1992, when Chinese Premier Li Peng submitted a proposal for the dam to China’s normally pliant parliament, the National People’s Congress, it ran into serious opposition and ultimately passed with the smallest margin in the legislature’s history.

Still, it is a sign of just how grave the problems are facing the world’s largest dam that criticism is now coming from top government officials in Beijing, who previously had studiously avoided saying anything derogatory about the $180 billion project. In June, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told a meeting of the State Council, convened to discuss the Three Gorges project, that solving environmental problems surrounding the controversial dam project should be a priority for the country. On Sept. 25, a group of senior government officials and scholars announced at a work meeting in Wuhan that the project had the potential to cause a “huge disaster … if steps are not taken promptly.” And on Oct. 9, the Chongqing municipal government announced it would have to relocate an additional four million people in at-risk areas due to environmental damange caused by the dam.

Originally built to control the Yangtze’s regular flooding, produce electricity to fuel China’s booming economy and (not incidentally) serve as a symbol of the nation’s emerging engineering prowess, the Three Gorges Dam has already faced a host of problems. An estimated 1.4 million residents have been displaced by the 640-km-long reservoir forming behind it, which also flooded several important archaeological sites. And some hydrologists say that by trapping silt the dam could actually make downstream riverbanks more vulnerable to flooding.

Now, however, scientists say things are getting worse. The water quality of the Yangtze’s tributaries is deteriorating rapidly, as the dammed river is less able to disperse pollutants effectively. The incidence of algae blooms have risen steadily since the reservoir was completed in 2006. The rising water is also causing rampant soil erosion, resulting in riverbank collapses and landslides along the shores of the Yangtze’s tributaries. Professor Lei Henshun, an environmentalist at Chongqing University who has devoted years to studying and preserving the Three Gorges ecosystem, says that if the water level of the reservoir reaches its planned height of 165 meters next year, it will bring tributaries of the Yangtze River under even greater environmental threat. “Now it’s a good time to review the problems that have arisen,” he says, “before a larger flooded area brings an even bigger impact on the tributaries.”…… (more details from the Time)

Posted in China, Economy, Environment, Life, News, Politics, River, Three Gorges, water, World, Yangtze river | 1 Comment »

China Admits Three Gorges Dam Could Cause Environmental Disasters

Posted by Author on September 27, 2007


By VOA News, U.S, 26 September 2007-

Chinese state media report that experts say the country could face a catastrophe if it fails to quickly resolve environmental problems caused by the massive Three Gorges Dam.

Government-run news outlets Wednesday said experts are concerned by flooding and erosion on hillsides along the Yangtze River around the dam.

The reports note the concerns of Wang Xiaofeng, the head of the office in charge of constructing the dam. He is quoted as saying China can not win by achieving economic prosperity at the cost of the environment.

He said the hydro-electric project has caused conflicts over land shortages and environmental degradation caused by irrational development.

The Chinese government has hailed the Three Gorges Dam as its greatest engineering project since the Great Wall.

It has said the project is a source of clean power and a solution to devastating flooding on the Yangtze River.

Human rights and environmental activists have long condemned the $22 billion dam, because of its negative effects on people and the environment.

The construction and flooding behind the dam has forced nearly one-and-a-half million people to leave their homes.

Original report from VOA News

Posted in China, disaster, Environment, Life, News, Politics, River, Social, Three Gorges, World, Yangtze river | 3 Comments »

China Three Gorges Landslide Threat Forces Villagers to Flee

Posted by Author on May 20, 2007


Three Gorges Probe, May 9/2007-

Nearly 100 villagers living upstream from the Three Gorges dam have been forced to leave their homes under threat of a landslide, which officials fear was disturbed during the filling of the dam’s reservoir last year, Xinhua News Agency reported this week.

The Yemaomian (wild cat face) landslide is 17 kilometres upstream of the Three Gorges dam in Hubei province’s Zigui county. Chinese experts identified the old landslide as unstable and prone to collapse in 2003, when the filling of the Three Gorges reservoir began. As predicted, several slides have forced residents to flee their homes since then.

Fears were raised again last month when residents of Miaohe village discovered a 200-metre fissure in the Yemaomian landslide. This week, 99 villagers from 22 households were evacuated as a precautionary measure in case the landslide, which carries an estimated 12 million cubic metres of rock and earth, drops into the Yangtze river.

Although the cause of the crack is still unclear, no major rainstorms or any significant changes in the GPS monitoring network have been recorded in the reservoir area. But a preliminary investigation cited by one local official suggests the crack was prompted by water level fluctuations in the reservoir.

“According to local people, the crack on the Yemaomian slide was caused by the fluctuation of water levels after the reservoir was filled to 156 metres last October,” Cheng Chongjun, director of the Three Gorges area administration of the Yangtze and Three Gorges Navigation Administrative Bureau, told Xinhua. “Our preliminary investigations reveal that the deformation of the slide is most likely related to these reservoir fluctuations.”

Zhao Zongzheng, a county official, said he fears that the deformation could worsen when the reservoir is lowered to 144 metres in preparation for the approaching flood season. Although the crack is currently stable, heavy rainfall or unexpected seismic activity could trigger further deformation.

Three Gorges dam, the world’s biggest, was built in a geologically unstable area prone to landslides. In 2001, a survey by the Changjiang Water Resources Commission identified 1,320 zones in the area at risk of landslides. Senior water engineers warned that impounding a huge body of water in the 600-km-long reservoir could activate at least 760 landslips – many of which have since broken loose in Hubei province and beyond.

The county government said that by the end of October, new houses will be built for the Miaohe evacuees on a flat area just two kilometres from the reactivated landslide. Xinhua did not report where the displaced villagers will live between now and then.

original report

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China’s Longest River Extensively Polluted Beyond Repair

Posted by Author on April 16, 2007


Reuters, Apr 15, 2007-

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Three Gorges Dam reservoir has been fouled by pesticides, fertilizers and sewage, and more than 600 kilometers of the Yangtze river are critically polluted, Xinhua news agency said on Sunday, citing a report.

The joint report by an institute at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the international WWF organization and the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission also said nearly 30 percent of the river’s major tributaries, including the Minjiang, Tuojiang, Xiangjiang and Huangpu rivers, were seriously polluted.

“The impact of human activities on the Yangtze water ecology is largely irreversible,” Yang Guishan, a researcher of the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and one of the chief editors of the report, told Xinhua.

“It’s a pressing job to regulate such activities in all the Yangtze drainage areas and promote harmonious development of man and nature.”

China’s environment has suffered for years as the country has chased rapid economic growth, with little official attention given until recently to the threats of unfettered growth to the nation’s air, water and soil.

Last month at the opening session of the National People’s Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao called for economic growth goals to be balanced with protection of the environment.

Cities along the Yangtze annually dump at least 14.2 billion tons of waste into China’s longest waterway — which Xinhua said accounts for 35 percent of the country’s fresh water resources.

The river’s annual harvest of aquatic products dropped from 427,000 tons in the 1950s to about 100,000 tons in the 1990s, according to the joint study.

It also said the Three Gorges Dam reservoir, the world’s largest water storage facility, was seriously polluted by pesticides, fertilizers and sewage from passenger boats.

– Original report from Reuters: China’s Yangtze river extensively polluted: study

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Dams and Flood Control in China: Safety Insurance or Damocles Sword?

Posted by Author on February 16, 2007


by Fan Xiao, translated by Three Gorges Probe, January 29/2007- (cont’d)

Prof. Huang pointed to the flood disaster that occurred in Ankang, Shaanxi province (North-west China), in 1983. The city is located 200 kilometres upstream of the Danjiangkou dam on the Han River, a major Yangtze tributary. After the Danjiangkou dam was built in 1969, coarse pebbles began to accumulate in the river section below Ankang. When major rainstorms hit the region from July 27-31, 1983, the level of the Han River rose precipitously.

Ankang was caught in a “pincer attack” from upstream and downstream areas. Due to the heavy rainfall, operators of the Shiquan reservoir upstream of Ankang were forced to release water just as the water level in deep gorges below the city was also rising rapidly.

As a result, the entire city of Ankang was flooded on July 31, 1983, with disastrous consequences. Thousands of people died, including those who had tried to save themselves by climbing up to the fourth floor of apartment buildings.

In 2004, a similar flood disaster occurred in Chongqing municipality’s Kai county, in the heart of the Three Gorges reservoir area. A severe rainstorm hit the county and surrounding area on Sept 6, 2004. The Xiao River rose to 171.5 metres, 5.6 metres higher than the “warning” level and 2.3 metres above the historic high on the river.

The old county seat, which is to be relocated in 2007, was completely flooded, with water rising in the streets to a depth of 11 metres.

The big floods in Kai county worried Three Gorges project officials. As Lu Chun, vice-director of the office of the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee, observed: “How will we be able to deal with floods once the Three Gorges reservoir is filled to 175 metres [above sea level] given that when the reservoir was only at the 139-metre level, flood water had nowhere to go on the Xiao River? How will Kai county cope if a ‘500-year flood’ occurs in the region?”

Whether or not the Three Gorges project will in fact reduce the severity of floods on the Yangtze is still a matter of debate, but the dam was built to a height of 185 metres anyway. As the water level in the Three Gorges reservoir rises, however, this question will be answered in time. What we do not want to see is Prof. Huang Wanli’s warnings coming true. (to be cont’d…)

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<< China’s Big Dams: Are They Safe?
>> Poorly Built, Dangerous Dams and Reservoirs in China

original report from Three Gorges Probe

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China’s Big Dams: Are They Safe?

Posted by Author on February 9, 2007


by Fan Xiao, translated by Three Gorges Probe, January 29/2007-

More than a third of China’s reservoirs are poorly constructed and dangerous, writes Sichuan geologist Fan Xiao, who describes them as “time bombs waiting to explode in the event of a severe flood or other unexpected occurrence.” In an article that first appeared in Chinese National Geographic magazine, he goes on to discuss geological disasters such as landslides and earthquakes that have been triggered by the filling of dam reservoirs. Below, an abridged version of the article, translated by Three Gorges Probe.

Dams and flood control: Safety insurance or Damocles sword?

It goes without saying that flood control is one of the most important functions a dam project can fulfill. However, it is unrealistic to build a dam expecting it to achieve a permanent solution to a flood problem.

The Three Gorges reservoir, for example, has a total storage capacity of 22.15 billion cubic metres. But if one takes into account the fact that 16.5 billion cubic metres of this capacity is given over to power generation and navigation on the Yangtze River, the project really has a flood-control capacity of only 5.65 billion cubic metres.

And even if its entire capacity of 22.15 billion cubic metres were to be dedicated to flood control, the dam could not do all that much because the total volume of flood water during the one-month flood peak on the Yangtze can be as much as 100 billion cubic metres.

Moreover, the dam is useless in controlling the floods that occur in the downstream region below the dam.

On flood control, Professor Huang Wanli strongly questioned the wisdom of building the Three Gorges dam. He warned that Chongqing harbour at the tail end of the Three Gorges reservoir would silt up with coarse pebbles after the reservoir was filled, causing more frequent and severe flooding in the densely populated region of Sichuan province and Chongqing municipality. (to be cont’d…)

Page 1 2 3 4

>> Dams and Flood Control in China: Safety Insurance or Damocles Sword?

original report from Three Gorges Probe

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China Three Gorges Dam Residents Resettlement Money ‘missing’

Posted by Author on January 26, 2007


BBC News, Friday, 26 January 2007-

Three GorgeMore than $30m has been embezzled from funds allocated for residents displaced by China’s Three Gorges Dam project, state media has said.

Chinese auditors said the money was misappropriated from funds allocated in 2004 and 2005, and warned the total figure could be even higher.

Corrupt local officials have long been rumoured to have pocketed money meant for the resettlement of residents.

Some 1.4 million people have been displaced by the massive dam project.

The national audit office said it believed 272m yuan ($34.8m) of 9.6bn yuan allocated in 2004 and 2005 had been misappropriated by local authorities, Xinhua news agency reports.

‘Inferior land’

The money should have been used for housing, construction and other services such as job training related to the resettlement of displaced residents.

Instead, it went to pay off the debts of other departments, staff salaries, build more offices and homes for people outside of the resettlement project, the audit office said.

Auditors also found cases of salaries for workers who did not exist and the unnecessary raising of building project costs.

They also warned that, since their process did not cover certain regions or take into account the 2006 funds, the final figure of misappropriated funds could be higher.

Work on the dam, set to be the world’s largest hydro-electric project, began in 1993. It is due to become fully operational by 2009.

China says it is necessary to provide electricity for its booming economy and help control flooding on the Yangtze River.

But campaigners say it comes at the expense of villagers, who in many cases have been resettled on inferior land and been deprived of compensation by corrupt local officials.

original report from BBC News
———-
Related:

Expert urge China rethinking Three Gorges resettlement, Three Gorges Probe, September 20/2006

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7 China Activists Honoured 2006 Housing Rights Defender Award

Posted by Author on January 14, 2007


The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Dec. 2006-

Seven Chinese housing rights activists have been named joint recipients of the 2006COHRE Housing Rights Defender Award, for their commitment to and struggle for housing rights in China.

The Housing Rights Defender Award is presented annually by the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) to an individual who has shown outstanding commitment to the realisation of housing rights for all people.

For the first time since the inception of COHRE’s Housing Rights Defender Award in 2003, the award will be presented to a number of housing rights activists instead of to a single person. The joint recipients of the 2006 Housing Rights Defender Award are: Fu Xiancai; Ma Yalian; Liu Zhengyou; Huang Weizhong; Chen Xiaoming; Xu Zhengqing; and Zheng Enchong.

COHRE’s Executive Director (a.i.), Jean du Plessis, said, “These seven Chinese activists have displayed exemplary commitment, courage and perseverance in their struggles for the land and housing rights of hundreds of farmers, workers and residents in China. They are inspirational examples to every person, community and organisation working for the cause of human rights around the world.

“The Chinese Government is notoriously oppressive towards human rights activists. Land and housing rights violations including mass forced evictions are common, while legal remedies are scarce for those seeking to assert their rights.

“The work of these activists – undertaken at grave personal risk to them, their families and fellow activists – has played a catalytic role in bringing to light the unjust practices of the Chinese Government. COHRE is therefore honoured to present the 2006 Housing Rights Defender Award to: Fu Xiancai; Ma Yalin; Liu Zhengyou; Huang Weizhong; Chen Xiaoming; Zu Zhengqing; and Zheng Enchong for their fearless commitment to housing rights in an environment that is hostile to such ideals.”

A newly released COHRE report, Forced Evictions: Violations of Human Rights – Global Survey No. 10, reveals that over 647,000 people have been forcibly evicted from their homes in China since 2003.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security recently reported that the Chinese Government had requisitioned land from 40 million farmers in the past decade, at the same time admitting a 20 per cent increase in cases of illegal land seizures in the first five months of 2006.

The number of public protests has increased from 74 000 in 2004 to 87 000 in 2005, in spite of ongoing cases of police intimidation, arbitrary arrest, and torture of activists.

All seven activists have been subjected to ongoing intimidation, harassment and even beatings for their housing and land rights activities.

For example, Fu Xiancai, who has worked for a decade to obtain appropriate compensation for 1.3 million people forced to relocate from their land and houses due to the Three Gorges Dam Project, has been severely injured and nearly lost his life, as a result of his work. Fu was struck from behind with a heavy object by an unknown person on his way home from an interrogation by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) in June 2006. The assault destroyed three vertebrae in his neck and has left him paralysed from shoulders down. He lost control of all bodily functions except his ability to speak. Just weeks previously, Fu had given an interview to German public broadcaster ARD about the Three Gorges Dam Project and the plight of the affected communities.

Equally disturbing is the fact that the whereabouts of another of the Award recipients, Chen Xiaoming, is not known since he was arrested in February 2006 by police officers from Shanghai’s Luwan District PSB. Chen, who taught himself law in order to contest the government’s actions against the housing rights of the poor, was arrested for meeting with an American diplomat to discuss problems faced by evictees.

Zheng Enchong, a lawyer who advised victims of forced evictions in Shanghai, had his license to practice law revoked by Shanghai City authorities in 2001, after he had argued for amendments to Article 10 of the People’s Republic of China’s Constitution in order to offer better protection to the land and housing rights of inhabitants. Despite losing his formal license, Zheng continued to assist nearly 500 people who had been forcibly evicted from their homes and/or had failed to receive adequate compensation for their evictions. Zheng was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in 2003 for advising a group of evicted Shanghai residents who were trying to bring a case alleging corruption against Zhou Zhengyi, a prominent Shanghai property developer. Upon Zheng’s release in June 2006, he was placed under de facto house arrest and continues to be subject to harassment.

Meanwhile, both Huang Weizhong and Xu Zhengqing are currently serving three-year prison sentences for their activism. Ma Yalian was sentenced to 18 months in a ‘Re-Education Through Labour’ (RETL) camp for publishing an article on the Internet titled “A True Record of Being Turned Away from the National Petitioners and Letters Office and the Petitioners Bureau of the National People’s Congress,” and was released in August 2005 after serving her full term. Liu Zhengyou, who was arrested in June 2006 when he tried to board a flight to Geneva, Switzerland, to attend a human rights training session, and has been subjected to repeated beatings, threats and harassment by the police.

COHRE’s Du Plessis said, “The situation with respect to housing rights in China is desperate, with many millions of people having lost their homes and land over the past decade, in both cities and the rural areas. In spite of a highly oppressive environment, the seven recipients of the 2006 Housing Rights Defender Award have stood up for the rights of those affected, at great personal cost. In presenting this award to these seven people, COHRE recognises and honours their extraordinary courage, determination and dedication to the cause of housing rights.”

– more details about the Seven Chinese housing rights activists’ personal information can be found from COHRE’s report here.

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