(December 18, 2009) Migrants displaced by the construction of the Three Gorges dam are returning to their hometowns after they struggled to make a living in their new homes, says a recent report in Shanghai Daily. According to the report, almost 200,000 residents from the Hubei Province and Chongqing Municipality were forced to move last year after the Three Gorges reservoir submerged 20 districts or counties.
In total, the report says the Three Gorges project has flooded 20 districts, 270 counties, 1,500 companies and over 34 million square meters of houses in Hubei and Chongqing.
The reports also says that around 7,000 farmers who were pushed off their land and moved to Guangdong Province said their new houses “were substandard and the farmland was wasteland.”
Because of the substandard conditions, most of the farmers relocated from Chongqing’s Wushan County to Liangjing Town of Guangdong’s Huizhou City have returned.
While the 69 Wushan farmers admit they were given about 4 hectares of farmland, they say the land was barren.
Of the 69 farmers, only six have reportedly stayed in Liangjing.
“We couldn’t find our lives here,” said Wang Shirui in the report, one of the 69 farmers who have returned.
He Guizhen is another example of a migrant returning home. After being moved from Chongqing to a village in Jingzhou City of Hubei Province in 2003, he said the promised house and farmland never materialized.
“He said he had no choice but to return to Chongqing,” according to the report. He now shares a shabby flat overlooking his submerged home.
But the reasons for moving back after relocation varies, with some residents citing different customs, accents and other obstacles between them and their new communities.
Elder migrants, reportedly, felt lonely because they couldn’t visit their old neighbors or friends, while some youngsters were ostracized in their new schools.
Problems facing migrants after relocation are nothing new. One study by Dayu Yang at the University of Leeds detailed the many issues facing migrants after they were forced off their land—ranging from lower-than-expected compensation, poor land and cultural differences. Dayu believes many of the migrants suffered a decline in their well-being and economic circumstances after being displaced.
“They (the migrants) were not allowed to participate in the resettlement and compensation policymaking process, the production resettlement fund has not fulfilled its role in reconstruction activities and has not afforded migrants the ability to rebuild their former economic lives; compensation is not sufficient enough to allow migrants to build new homes for themselves after relocation, and corruption has siphoned off significant amounts of funding that should have been spent on migrants,” Dayu wrote.
Brady Yauch, Probe International, December 18, 2009
For more information on the plight of Three Gorges’ migrants see Probe International’s Three Gorges oral history series.
Categories: Three Gorges Probe