07/24/2008, 00.00
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Last town to be submerged for Three Gorges Dam is evacuated

Altogether about 1.4 million people have been relocated. The 2,309-metre-long, 175-metre-high dam is expected to generate 84.7 billion kilowatts per year. Many experts fear though what its environmental and geological consequences may be.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The last town to be submerged by the giant Three Gorges Dam has been evacuated. The US$ 22 billion project, 2,309-metre-long dam can now reach its final height of 175 metres. The last resident of Gaoyang (central Hubei) left the town. Altogether more than 1.4 million people have been relocated. Finished in 2003, the water level had reached “only” 156 metres.

The project is expected to generate 84.7 billion kilowatts of electricity each year—the amount of energy needed to light the counties of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.

But scientists and experts have warned that dangers lurk on the horizon for the environment and the territory as landslides are now occurring more frequently.

For instance, a big mudslide hit a village in the Gaoyang area in April, sweeping into the village. And a landslide nearby killed 35 people late last year.

Experts wonder whether such episodes are a consequence of the dam or not. Government officials have tried to allay fears saying that 12 billion yuan (US$ 1.6 billion) have been allocated over the past few years for “geological repairs.”

Concerns have increased since last May’s earthquake in Sichuan, which also damaged some dams.

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