11/19/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Three Gorges Dam, another 17 billion euros needed

Costs of projected completed in 2006 continue to rise. These funds are needed for the local population, suffering its worst drought in 60 years.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The construction of the huge Three Gorges Dam, which interrupts the flow of water into the basin of the Yangtze River, has carried with it an avalanche of problems for the local population, requiring an additional 17 billion euros for their solution. The figure is in addition to the huge controversy - environmental and social - that have accompanied the entire project. So reports Chinese state media today.

According to the Government People's Daily, a draft prepared by the central government plans to invest most money to support the population - largely farmers - who have been displaced by the dam’s construction. In fact, 1.3 million people lost their homes in this undertaking. If approved by Beijing, the investment will add to around 26 billion already invested in the dam, which provides a sort of lift for river boats as well as 26 electrical generators.

The governments of Chongqing and Hubei Province argue that not enough has been done to address the needs of the local area. According to Weng Lida, who works in the office for the environmental protection of the river Yangtze, 17 billion had been already budgeted just for the people: "It was supposed to help migrants find sustainable employment”.  Li Feng, who worked on the construction plan, confirms the existence of these estimates, but they were ignored.

The epic of the Three Gorges Dam - a challenge to nature, strongly desired by the then premier Li Peng – began in the early 90s, when the government ordered the residents of the Yangtze basin to abandon homes and villages to allow work begin. According to the then Vice Premier Zou Jiahui, the project would cost no more than 6 billion euros. Despite the government’s alleged "humanitarian" motivations - that the dam was the only way to stop the flooding of the river - people began to protest violently against the decision.

 Government orders to suppress the protests, culminated in the forced removal of farmers from the area. The project was completed in 2006,

 

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