U.S. Water News Online
BEIJING -- A Chinese official said builders of the giant
Three Gorges Dam have poured 70 percent of the concrete for its
60-story-high wall, and he rejected accusations of misuse of money
meant to resettle more than 1 million people forced from their homes.
Thirteen new towns have been built to house communities that will
be inundated by the reservoir of the dam, said Guo Shuyan, director
of the construction committee. Almost 650,000 people have been moved,
some 140,000 of them to other regions of China.
Environmentalists, scientists and archaeologists call the dam an
expensive mistake. They say it will wreck the local environment,
destroy cultural relics and be an economic drain.
People being resettled complain that money for their relocation
has disappeared or been misused by corrupt officials.
Guo insisted that corruption and embezzlement of project funds has
been minimal. He said only 234 cases have been uncovered totaling $5
million, and most of that money was recovered.
``Management of funds has been very strict,'' Guo said.
However, the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily in
December, 2000, reported $57 million had been pilfered from
government relocation funds.
There was no explanation for the discrepancy between the report
and Guo's statement.
New towns all along the river boast monumental government office
buildings and lavish apartments for officials. However, much of the
promised housing for farmers and townspeople has yet to be built.
China says the dam will end disastrous annual flooding on the
Yangtze River, generate power and make river shipping safer.
More than 1 million people are to be displaced by the reservoir of
the dam, said to be the world's largest hydroelectric project.
More than 27 million cubic yards of cement has gone into the dam's
wall, Guo said.
The dam is to start producing power next year and will add
capacity through 2009, when its 244-square-mile reservoir will be
Interest payments and inflation are expected to push the project's
total cost to $24 billion.
Guo said that was within the projected budget. He said power sales
and related projects will begin paying off loans within three years.
Guo did not comment on reports that angry migrants, most of whom
have received a little over $1,000 per family in compensation, have
staged protests or refused to move.
State media report only contentment with new homes and land,
apparently to squelch concerns among those yet to be moved.
Archaeologists have also complained the government hasn't given
them time to excavate thousands of ancient graves, temples and
medieval towns in the area soon to be under water.
The government has set aside $37 million for surveying and
preserving archaeological sites, according to a report issued at a
recent news conference.
About 100 imperial-era ancient temples, watchtowers, pavilions and
other relics will be moved out of the reservoir area, it said.
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