Three Gorges Probe

News flash: Three Gorges reservoir to be raised four metres

Kelly Haggart and Mu Lan
September 29, 2003

The builders of the Three Gorges dam have suddenly announced a dramatic change in the project schedule: The reservoir, which was filled to the 135-metre level in June, is to be raised an additional four metres by the end of October.

The Three Gorges Project Construction Committee issued a statement
announcing that the reservoir is to be filled to 139 metres by Oct. 30,
China News Service (Zhongguo xinwen she) reported on Friday [Sept. 26].
The report gave no explanation for the unexpected change in schedule.

 

The news will come as a shock to people living in the new submersion
zone along the banks of the reservoir, which eventually will stretch
for 660 kilometres behind the dam. Until now, there has been no
suggestion that officials planned to veer from the long-established
timetable, which states that the water level will be raised to 156
metres in 2006, before being raised to its final level of 175 metres in
2009.

 

The China News Service report said resettlement will take place "on
a massive scale." However, the news agency did not indicate how many
people will have to move to make way for the higher reservoir. Nor did
it say whether any preparations have been made to ease the upheaval of
an accelerated pace of resettlement.

 

It is impossible to know how many thousands of people will be
required to move at painfully short notice, whether they were given any
advance warning of the decision, or even whether their new homes are
ready for them. Many will have assumed they still had two or three
years to make the necessary practical and psychological preparations
for their displacement.

 

News of the schedule change, which was released on the eve of
China’s weeklong National Day [Oct. 1] holiday, was also carried by the
Chinese-language service of the Xinhua news agency and the Chongqing
Evening News (Chongqing wanbao).

 

Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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