(September 13, 2004) The Jumping Tiger Gorge [Hutiaoxia] in Lijiang, Yunnan Province, is regarded as a wonder of nature, with 17,000-feet high snow-capped peaks looking down upon Asia’s longest and most turbulent river, the Jinsha (the upstream of the Yangtze). However, within ten years, the Jumping Tiger Gorge is scheduled to be developed into a reservoir
An official of the Yunnan Development and Reform Commission told Interfax that the Jinsha River Middle Reaches Hydropower Planning Report has now been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission. According to the report, the Jumping Tiger Gorge will be developed as one of the two main regulatory reservoirs along with the Liangjiaren Reservoir.
As Interfax has reported, two massive hydropower projects on the Jinsha River will be built by the Three Gorges Project Corporation, with a combined installed capacity in excess of the Three Gorges facility itself. More stations are to follow. The planned reservoir at the Jumping Tiger Gorge will help adjust the flow of water in order to maintain a steady flow to the hydropower facilities.
The official said that the development of the Jumping Tiger Gorge is still at the trial stage. Decisions will be made as to what extent the Jumping Tiger Gorge will be developed, but it will certainly become the location of the major regulatory reservoir in the upper and middle reaches of Jinsha River within a decade.
Asked about the public concerns about the planned project, the official said that they were trying to come up with the optimal development scheme but he admitted that issues such as the relocation of local residents and the protection of the environment were daunting. He declined to comment about the likely destruction of the natural beauty and damage to the culture of the local Naxi minority.
According to a story by the Chinese river expert Ma Jun published in Xinmin Zhoukan (Xinmin Weekly), prospecting work has already started in the area.
According to Fan Xiao, the general engineer of Sichuan Geological Prospecting Bureau, the construction of the reservoir will surely have a negative impact on the natural environment. As the Jumping Tiger Reservoir is to be developed into a regulatory reservoir whose water level will vary greatly between the high-water period and the low-water period, people living in low-lying areas will certainly have to be relocated. The beautiful Stone Drum Town, for instance, will disappear when the reservoir is built.
On July 2, 2003, the UNESCO World Heritage Center listed the Three Parallel Rivers National Park as a world natural heritage site, and the Jumping Tiger Gorge and the first bend of Yangtze River are major features of the park.
In light of the likely destruction of the natural beauty of the Three Parallel Rivers National Park by the construction of reservoirs and hydropower stations, Friends of Nature, a Chinese non-governmental environmental protection organization, has been preparing a written petition to the related departments of the central government asking for the protection of the area. According to Fan, experts including himself, as well as other related organizations, have been invited to help revise and sign the petition before it is submitted.
Interfax, September 13, 2004
Categories: Three Gorges Probe
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