Three Gorges Probe

Three Gorges: a dam with faint praise

Discovery Channel
June 2, 2006
It is now eight years since the People’s Congress of China approved the Three Gorges Dam project – and sparked a global controversy. Slated for completion in 2009 at an estimated cost of up to $75 billion (U.S.), the 2.3 kilometre-wide dam on the Yangtze River will create a reservoir the length of Lake Superior, flooding 200,000 acres of farmland and forest and requiring the resettlement of 1.5 million people. In return, the dam is supposed to provide hydroelectric power and flood control in a country where both are sorely needed, to grow the economy, control the pollution caused by burning massive amounts of coal, and stop the fatalities – 300,000 last century – that occur whenever the Yangtze overflows its banks. But engineers, environmentalists and journalists, inside and outside China, continue to criticize the dam for not addressing either problem, while creating a host of others. And now, reports of massive corruption by senior officials on the project are being added to the mix. Money flowing in, money flowing out… A May 3 report in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, says Jin Wenchao, head of the Three Gorges Economic Development Corporation, has gone missing — along with more than one billion yuan ($125 million) of state funds he is alleged to have siphoned off from the project. The corporation was set up in 1992 to provide support services to the project and was under the supervision of the Three Gorges Resettlement Bureau — where officials have also been caught embezzling tens of millions of project funds. The Post also reports that in January a top executive at Three Gorges Industrial Company, which carried out two-thirds of dam construction, was charged with embezzling billions of yuan. However, the reports don’t worry Canada’s Export Development Corporation (EDC). The Crown corporation, which provides loans to buyers of Canadian goods or services, first became involved in the project in January 1996.

Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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