The man-made canal, part of the Three Gorges Project
on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, was successfully
sealed off Wednesday morning.
marked the start of a new phase of construction for the
project, considered by experts to be the world's largest
water control facility.
The project generated
a great deal of controversy in the 50 years prior to its
initiation in 1993. Initially, the controversy centered on
financial and technical difficulties which eventually gave
way to environmental concerns.
general manager of the China Yangtze River Three Gorges
Project Development Co., said, "Flooding results from
objective of the Three Gorges Project is to prevent flooding
on the Yangtze River," explained Lu, who is also a
famous water control expert.
China has a long
history of flooding along its many rivers. Historical
records say that during the more than 2,000 years preceding
the founding of the New China in 1949, there was one
flooding incident every two years. In addition, the frequent
and serious flooding on the Yangtze in the past more than
one decade has generated enormous losses.
Chinese scientists agree that the Three Gorges
Project should be constructed for the purpose of curbing
flooding on the mighty Yangtze, however, they also feel that
greater efforts should be made to prevent potential
Chinese President Jiang
Zemin also stressed the importance of environmental
protection on Nov. 8, 1997, as he observed the damming of
the main stream of the Yangtze, saying, "Environmental
protection is a crucial issue which will benefit future
generations of the Chinese nation".
Building dams on rivers does not necessarily
constitute conquering nature, admitted Chen Hanbai, also a
veteran water control specialist, rather "it is just
like initiating a dialogue or negotiations between mankind
and the forces of nature."
As a result of
the construction of the Three Gorges Project, local
residents have elected to either relocate to higher
elevations or simply move to other parts of the country.
Local industries considered as polluters have been either
relocated or shut down.
To date, 140,000
residents have left the Three Gorges reservoir area to build
new homes in 11 relatively wealthy provinces as well as in
Shanghai Municipality. In addition, more than 1,000
polluting enterprises in the reservoir area have been shut
Beginning this year, the Chinese
government will earmark 44 billion yuan (about US$5.3
billion) for improving the environment in the Three Gorges
Apart from that, 490 million
yuan (about US$59.04 million) has been allotted for
repairing environmental damage resulting from the
construction of the dam.
The Three Gorges
Project has now become the most important environmental
protection project in Chinese history.
"Environmental protection efforts will
ensure that the Three Gorges Project plays a full role in
flood control, power generation and navigation," said
Lu Youmei, General Manager of China Yangtze River Three
Gorges Project Development Co., adding "it will also
greatly improve the damaged ecological environment in the
Yangtze River Valley."
By 2009, the
anticipated completion date, the approximately 15 million
residents living along the lower reaches of the Yangtze, as
well as a large area of arable land, will be secure from the
threat of flooding. The project will also help to prevent
the accumulation of silt which contributes to the drying up
of lakes along the middle reaches of the Yangtze.
Upon completion, the project will be able to
generate 84.7 billion kwh of electricity annually, which
will replace the burning of approximately 50 million tons of
coal, a major source of pollution.
Gorges Project will begin to store water and generate power
next year, following a decade of construction.
Pan Jiazheng, a member of both the Chinese
Academy of Science and the Chinese Academy of Engineering,
said: "Chinese has long worshipped the philosophy of
achieving harmony between mankind and nature, therefore the
taming of the river, with its long-term benefits,
constitutes a victory of mankind over nature."
Special anti-corruption measures have ensured the
massive Three Gorges dam project has been free of graft and
embezzlement since its launch in 1993, according to a senior
Li Yong'an, vice-general manager of
the China Yangtze River Three Gorges Project Development
Corporation, said Tuesday that more than 40 billion yuan
(US$4.8 billion) has been spent on the project to date.
The company has the power of asset management,
settlement and project assignment, said Li, adding that the
first document the company issued involved eight regulations
of clean management.
The company, which is open to
the scrutiny of the government and media, has so far made
12,000 payments for various sub-projects without any
irregularities being found. An inspection team from the
Ministry of Finance has confirmed the dam's clean record.