Three Gorges Probe

Global study blasts ills of hydro dams

The Ottawa Citizen
May 9, 2006

"Development critics find report too hopeful." Article quotes Grainne Ryder.

Development critics find report too hopeful. Huge hydro dams have caused immense harm to rivers all over the world, poisoning fish, killing wildlife, breeding mosquitoes and flooding tens of millions of poor people off their lands, says a two-year global study. The World Commission on Dams reported yesterday that to keep building huge dams with electricity as their only goal has caused terrible social and economic destruction, and may cause open conflict. Besides, it says, dams are usually built late and far over budget. With 45,000 large dams carving up rivers around the world, it says in its final report, the debate over their future is "increasingly confrontational." Yet the commission also says large dams can be built in a way that harnesses the water’s power without destroying the lives of people living near it. This position is vigorously opposed by environmental groups that say the dam-building industry must be stopped. And the timing of yesterday’s report is likely to rekindle debate over the world’s biggest dam project — the Three Gorges dam under construction on China’s Yangtze River. Canada has helped fund that project, which will force 1.2 million people from their homes. The commission was led by the World Bank — a funding agency that helped build many large dams in the Third World — and the World Conservation Union. The commission has no power. It will now disband and leave governments, international aid agencies and industry to do what they like with its findings.

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